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Miller v. Social Security Administration

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

March 23, 2015

DEBORAH K. MILLER,
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

JOHN S. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

This is a civil action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c), to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the Social Security Administration ("SSA" or "the Administration") denying plaintiff's applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income, as provided under the Social Security Act. The case is currently pending on plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Docket Entry No. 12), to which defendant has responded (Docket Entry No. 15). Plaintiff has further filed a reply brief in support of her motion (Docket Entry No. 18). Upon consideration of these papers and the transcript of the administrative record (Docket Entry No. 10), [1] and for the reasons given below, the undersigned recommends that plaintiff's motion for judgment be DENIED and that the decision of the SSA be AFFIRMED.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff filed her applications for benefits on July 21, 2008, alleging an onset of disability as of November 10, 2007, due to "[d]iabetes, [high blood pressure], back, heart damage, depression." (Tr. 124-35, 161) For purposes of her application for disability insurance benefits, plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on March 31, 2011. Plaintiff's applications were denied at the initial and reconsideration stages of review before the state agency, whereupon plaintiff filed a request for de novo review by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Plaintiff appeared for a hearing before the ALJ on February 8, 2011, at which hearing she was represented by counsel and gave testimony. (Tr. 27-50) Testimony was also received at the hearing from an independent vocational expert. At the conclusion of the hearing, the ALJ took the matter under advisement until February 25, 2008, when he issued a written decision in which he found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 12-20) That decision contains the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through March 31, 2011.

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 10, 2007, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq. ).

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus; diabetic retinopathy; obesity; adjustment disorder; and drug and alcohol abuse in remission (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 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, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except that she cannot carry out complex or detailed instructions, cannot maintain attention or concentration for more than two hours without interruption, and cannot have more than occasional interaction with others.

6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).

7. The claimant, born on February 20, 1963, was 44 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to a younger individual age 45-49 (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).

8. The claimant has a limited (8th grade) 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 November 10, 2007, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

(Tr. 14-16, 18-19)

On June 16, 2012, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-7), thereby rendering that decision the final decision of the Administration. This civil action was thereafter timely filed, and the court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c). If the ALJ's findings are supported by ...


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