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Penn v. Saul

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

December 3, 2019

BOBBIE JOYCE PENN PLAINTIFF
v.
ANDREW SAUL[1], Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Bobbie Joyce Penn, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security Administration (Commissioner) denying her claim for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (hereinafter “the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). In this judicial review, the court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative record to support the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         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. 4. 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 application on October 9, 2015. (Tr. 11, 201)[2]. In her application, Plaintiff alleged being disabled due to: stroke, depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, high cholesterol, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, blood clot, type 2 diabetes, and back pain, with an alleged onset date of August 1, 2015. (Tr. 11, 230, 235). Plaintiff's application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 11). Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing and that administrative hearing was held on October 30, 2017. (Tr. 29-52). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and represented by counsel, Gregory Giles. (Id.). Plaintiff and a Vocational Expert (“VE”) testified at the hearing. (Id.).

         Following the administrative hearing, on May 2, 2018, the ALJ entered a partially favorable decision. (Tr. 7-22). The ALJ found Plaintiff had last met the insured status requirements of the Act through September 30, 2020. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity from her alleged onset date of August 1, 2015, through her date last insured. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of: history of cerebral vascular accident (CVA); diabetes; degenerative disc disease; history of major depressive disorder; and a history of anxiety disorder. (Tr. 13-14, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined that, prior to the established onset date, those impairments did not meet or medically equal the requirements of any of the Listings of Impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (“Listings”). (Tr. 14-15, Finding 4).

         The ALJ considered Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC for the time period between August 1, 2015, and June 11, 2017. (Tr. 15-19). The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and found her claimed limitations were not fully supported prior to June 11, 2017. (Tr. 18). The ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the RFC to:

[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except the claimant could occasionally climb stairs and ramps, kneel, crouch, crawl, and stoop and never climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds. The claimant could perform simple, routine, and repetitive tasks and [was] limited to simple work-related decisions. The claimant could perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to work performed.

(Tr. 15).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC beginning on June 11, 2017. (Tr. 19-20, Finding 6). The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and found her allegations regarding her symptoms and limitations were consistent with the evidence. (Tr. 19). The ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the RFC to:

[P]erform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except the claimant could perform simple, routine, and receptive tasks and [was] limited to simple work-related decisions. The claimant could perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to work performed. (Tr. 19).

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and determined Plaintiff had been incapable of performing any of her PRW since August 1, 2016 (Tr. 20, Finding 7). The ALJ found Plaintiff to be an individual closely approaching advanced age prior to the established onset date, and that her age category had not changed since the established onset date. (Tr. 20, Finding 8). The ALJ found that prior to June 11, 2017, there were jobs in the significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 20-21, Finding 11). The ALJ found Plaintiff could perform the representative occupations of: housekeeper cleaner with approximately 552, 010 jobs in the nation; cleaner-polisher with approximately 323, 707 jobs in the nation; or sorter with approximately 466, 536 jobs in the nation. Id. The ALJ found that beginning on June 11, 2017, there were no jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 21, Finding 12). Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was not disabled prior to June 11, 2017, but became disabled on that date and continued to be disabled through the date of the written decision. (Tr. 21, Finding 13).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 198-200). On August 31, 2018, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's disability determination. (Tr. 1-4). On October 10, 2018, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11, 12. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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