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Gibson v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

December 12, 2014

ROBIN D. GIBSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

H. BRUCE GUYTON, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Rules of this Court for a report and recommendation regarding disposition by the District Court of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Doc. 11 & 12] and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 13 & 14]. Plaintiff Robin D. Gibson seeks judicial review of the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), the final decision of the Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security ("the Commissioner").

On April 16, 2011, Plaintiff protectively filed a Title II and Title XVIII application with the Social Security Administration with an alleged onset date of February 15, 2010. [Tr. 108-09; 137]. The Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's application initially and upon reconsideration. [Tr. 69-71; 76-77]. Plaintiff timely filed a request for a hearing, and she appeared before Administrative Law Judge, James Dixon, on August 29, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. [Tr. 78; 34]. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on October 25, 2012. [Tr. 14-33]. Plaintiff filed her appeal of the decision, which the Appeals Council declined to review on February 26, 2014. [Tr. 6-13; 1-5].

Having exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a complaint with this Court on April 3, 2014, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision under Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act. [Doc. 1]. The parties have filed competing dispositive motions, and this matter is now ripe for adjudication.

I. ALJ FINDINGS

The ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2014.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 15, 2010, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following combination of severe impairments: left rotator cuff tear, fibromyalgia, disorders of muscle, ligament and fascia (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift and carry (including upward pulling) 50 pounds occasionally, 25 pounds frequently, stand/walk/sit (with normal breaks) 6 hours in an 8 hour workday; unlimited push/pull (including hand/foot controls) within external limitations; no postural, visual, communicative, or environmental limitations; frequent overhead reaching with the left upper extremity; all other manipulative activities are unlimited.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a bank teller, custodian and teacher's assistant. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from February 15, 2010, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).

[Tr. 19-27].

II. DISABILITY ELIGIBILITY

To qualify for SSI benefits, plaintiff must file an application and be an "eligible individual" as defined in the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a); 20 C.F.R. § 416.202. An individual is eligible for SSI benefits on the basis of financial need and either age, blindness, or disability. See 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a).

"Disability" is the inability "[t]o engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months." 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). An individual shall be determined to be under a disability only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or whether he would be hired if he applied for work. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(B).

Disability is evaluated pursuant to a five-step analysis summarized as follows:

1. If claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, he is not disabled.
2. If claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity, his impairment must be severe before he can be found to be disabled.
3. If claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity and is suffering from a severe impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and his impairment meets or equals a listed ...

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