United States District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, Northeastern Division
LAYLA D. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. CLIFTON KNOWLES United States Magistrate Judge
This is a civil action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security finding that Plaintiff was not disabled and denying Plaintiff Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), as provided under the Social Security Act (“the Act”), as amended. The case is currently pending on Plaintiff’s Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record. Docket No. 15. Defendant has filed a Response, arguing that the decision of the Commissioner was supported by substantial evidence and should be affirmed. Docket No. 17. Plaintiff has filed a Reply. Docket No. 20.
For the reasons stated below, the undersigned recommends that Plaintiff’s Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record be GRANTED, and that this action be REMANDED.
Plaintiff filed her applications for DIB and SSI on August 31, 2010 and September 3, 2010 respectively, alleging that she had been disabled since July 1, 2010, due to “degenerative disk disease with bone spurs on [her] spine, ” “major depression, ” anxiety, being “over weight” [sic], “craniotomy that resulted in te [sic] removal of Pineal Gland, ” “bipolar disorder- not responding 2 medications, ” and “pinealoma.” Docket No. 12, Attachment (“TR”), TR 90, 93, 120. Plaintiff’s applications were denied both initially (TR 43, 44) and upon reconsideration (TR 45, 46). Plaintiff subsequently requested (TR 62) and received (TR 74) a hearing. Plaintiff’s hearing was conducted on February 9, 2012, by Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Joan Lawrence. TR 26. Plaintiff and witness, Jessica Pore, appeared and testified. Id.
On June 8, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision unfavorable to Plaintiff, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act and Regulations. TR 8-20. Specifically, the ALJ made the following findings of fact:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2015.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 1, 2010, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: back and depression (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(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, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c) except the claimant appears capable of performing three-four step tasks with fair understanding and persistence within given physical limitations. The claimant should be capable of attention and concentration for at least 3 hours at a time. Although the claimant reported social difficulties with peers and supervisors in the performance setting, the claimant should be able to sustain anger and/or anxiety management especially if given a more isolated performance environment and a supportive supervisor. The claimant should be able to cope with at least mild stress and changes in the environment.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on March 20, 1978 and was 32 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Considering the claimant’s age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from July 1, 2010, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
Plaintiff timely filed a request for review of the hearing decision. TR 6. On September 24, 2013, the Appeals Council issued a letter declining to review the case (TR 1-4), thereby rendering the decision of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. This civil action was thereafter timely filed, and the Court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). If the Commissioner’s findings are ...