United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Elizabeth Strother (“Plaintiff”) brings this
action pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social
Security Act (“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
(2010), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and a period of
disability under Title II of the Act.
Parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate
judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case,
including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a final
judgment, and conducting all post-judgment proceedings. ECF
No. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed her disability application on May 1, 2016.
(Tr. 15). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, facet
joint disease, fibromyalgia, fatty liver, atrial
fibrillation, osteoarthritis, type II diabetes, depression,
and a herniated disc at ¶ 5-S1 (nerve impingement). (Tr.
246). Plaintiff originally alleged an onset date of September
3, 2011 but that date was later amended to November 5, 2014.
(Tr. 15). This application was denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 107-134).
Plaintiff's application was denied, Plaintiff requested
an administrative hearing on this application, and this
hearing request was granted. (Tr. 69-106). On October 17,
2017, the SSA held an administrative hearing in Little Rock,
Arkansas. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present
and was represented by Shannon Muse Carroll. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dianne G.
Smith testified at this hearing. Id.
23, 2018, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a
fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
application. (Tr. 12-31). The ALJ determined Plaintiff last
met the insured status of the Act on December 31, 2015. (Tr.
18, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) during the
period from her amended alleged onset date of November 6,
2014 through her date last insured of December 31, 2015. (Tr.
18, Finding 2). The ALJ determined that, through her date
last insured, Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, fibromyalgia,
and obesity. (Tr. 18-19, Finding 3). Despite being severe,
the ALJ also determined Plaintiff did not have an impairment
or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled
one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 19, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 19-24, Finding 5). Specifically,
the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the following RFC:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the
claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform less
than a full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(b). She could lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally
and 10 pounds frequently. She could sit for 6 hours and
stand/walk for 6 hours. She could push/pull as much as she
can lift and carry. She can occasionally reach overhead to
the right. She can frequently handle, finger, and feel items
with both hands. She can occasionally climb ramps and stairs,
kneel, crouch, stoop, and crawl. She can never climb ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds. Finally, the claimant can never work at
unprotected heights or moving mechanical parts.
found Plaintiff was born on July 7, 1971 and was forty-four
(44) years old on her date last insured. (Tr. 25, Finding 7).
Such a person is defined as a “younger
individual” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008).
Id. The ALJ determined Plaintiff had a limited
education but was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 25,
evaluated her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and
determined Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform
her PRW. (Tr. 24, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined whether
Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr.
25-26, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative
hearing on this issue. Id. Based upon that
testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity
to perform the following occupations: (1) press operator
(light, unskilled) with 30, 000 such jobs nationwide; (2)
sub-assembler (light, unskilled) with 10, 400 such jobs
nationwide; (3) call out clerk (sedentary, unskilled) with 8,
200 such jobs nationwide; and (4) document preparer
(sedentary, unskilled) with 45, 000 such jobs nationwide.
Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to
perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from November
6, 2014 (amended alleged onset date) through December 31,
2015 (Plaintiff's date last insured). (Tr. 26, Finding
requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ
unfavorable disability determination. On October 17, 2018,
the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's
disability determination. (Tr. 1-6). On November 19, 2018,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on November 19,
2018. ECF No. 5. This case is now ready for decision.