United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ALETA A. TRAUGER, District Judge.
On March 9, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (Docket No. 49), to which the plaintiff, Terry Moyers, has filed timely Objections (Docket No. 50), and the defendant ("SSA") has filed a Response (Docket No. 52). The R&R recommends that the plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Docket No. 28) be granted to a limited extent and that the case be remanded to the ALJ for further consideration. For the reasons discussed herein, the court will overrule the plaintiff's Objections and accept the R&R.
I. Initial Consideration by the Administrative Law Judge
On August 6, 2009, the plaintiff filed a claim for social security benefits, alleging that he became disabled on November 1, 2006 as a result of bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and "back problems." The plaintiff has a long medical history that the Magistrate Judge described extensively in the R&R, familiarity with which is assumed. (Docket No. 49 at 2-11.)
The state agency responsible for administering benefits denied the plaintiff's claim at the initial and reconsideration stages of review. Subsequently, the plaintiff filed a request for a de novo hearing and decision by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). A hearing was held on March 20, 2012, at which the plaintiff appeared via video-teleconference. At the initial hearing, the plaintiff amended his alleged disability onset date to December 31, 2010. A vocational expert also testified before the ALJ. A subsequent hearing was held before the ALJ on May 11, 2012, primarily for the purpose of obtaining additional testimony from the vocational expert. On May 18, 2012, the ALJ issued a written decision in which she concluded that the plaintiff was not disabled. She made the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2010.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 31, 2010, the amended alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: 1) History of polysubstance abuse, (2) Status post fracture of right hand fingers, wrist and right tibia, (3) Degenerative disc disease of the thoracic/lumbar and cervical spine, (4) Degenerative joint disease of the knee, status post meniscal tears, (5) Fracture and tears of the left shoulder, (6) Right carpal tunnel syndrome, (7) Obesity, and (8) Depressive disorder (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, 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a range of work between a full range of sedentary work to light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a, b) and 416.967(a, b). The claimant can stand or walk for four out of eight hours, for one hour at a time, before needing to alternate to a sitting position while on task for 10 minutes; can sit for six out of eight hours; cannot perform overhead work with the left upper extremity, and can perform only occasional overhead work with the right upper extremity, and only frequent handling and fingering with the right upper extremity (dominant);... The claimant should avoid work at heights or around dangerous moving machinery; and excessive vibration. The claimant can perform routine tasks with one to three steps, with periods of concentration limited to two hours at a time and only occasional interaction with the general public, coworkers and supervisors.
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functioning 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 December 31, 2010, through the date of this ...