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Cressell v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

November 20, 2019

DONNA CRESSELL PLAINTIFF
v.
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Donna Cressell (“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 applications for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Act.

         The 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.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed her disability application on June 17, 2015. (Tr. 50). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis in her left knee, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. (Tr. 231). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of June 1, 2009 but later amended that alleged onset date to June 20, 2016. (Tr. 50). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 103-131).

         After Plaintiff's application was denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on this application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 68-102). On August 21, 2017, the SSA held an administrative hearing in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Tr. 68-102). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Imogene MacDonald. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Ivory Youngblood testified at this hearing. Id.

         On May 25, 2018, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 47-67). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 52, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since June 20, 2016, her amended alleged onset date. (Tr. 53, Finding 2). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease (DDD) of the cervical and lumbar spines, fibromyalgia, status post ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), hypertension, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome status post right carpal tunnel release and atypical chest pain. (Tr. 53-54, 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. 54, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 25-32, Finding 5). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the following RFC:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except she can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; can occasionally balance, kneel, stoop, crouch and crawl; can occasionally reach overhead and can, otherwise, frequently reach, handle and finger.

Id.

         The ALJ evaluated her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 58-59, Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW as a housekeeper/cleaner (light, unskilled). Id.

         The ALJ also determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other occupations in significant numbers in the national economy, including the following: (1) short order cook (light, semi-skilled) with approximately 112, 786 such jobs nationally; (2) counter clerk (light, unskilled) with approximately 255, 787 such jobs nationally; (3) usher (light, unskilled) with approximately 33, 961 such jobs nationally; and (4) house sitter (light, unskilled) with approximately 28, 350 such jobs nationally. (Tr. 59).

         Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW and could perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from June 20, 2016 through the date of his decision on May 31, 2018. (Tr. 59, Finding 7).

         Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ unfavorable disability determination. On November 17, 2018, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's disability determination. (Tr. 1-7). On December 10, 2018, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the ...


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