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Mullins v. Colvin

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

April 30, 2015

THOMAS MULLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

JOE B. BROWN, Magistrate Judge.

To: The Honorable Todd J. Campbell, United States District Judge.

This action was brought under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c) for judicial review of the final decision of the Social Security Administration ("the SSA"), through its Commissioner ("the Commissioner"), denying plaintiff's applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act ("the Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i) and 423(d), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381 et seq. For the reasons explained below, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Doc. 17) be DENIED and the Commissioner's decision AFFIRMED.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed for DIB and SSI on August 26, 2010 alleging a disability onset date of October 31, 2007. (Doc. 11, pp. 32-33, 75, 98, 175)[1] Plaintiff claimed that he is unable to work because of back problems, heart attack with stent, mental problems, blood pressure, and depression. (Doc. 11, pp. 37-38) Plaintiff's claims were denied initially on July 8, 2011 and again upon reconsideration on January 10, 2012. (Doc. 11, pp. 32-33, 37-49)

Plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) on February 1, 2012. (Doc. 11, pp. 50-51) A hearing was held on May 1, 2013 in Nashville before ALJ Shannon Smith. (Doc. 11, pp. 414-40) Vocational expert (VE) Kenneth Anchor testified at the hearing. (Doc. 11, pp. 414, 424-25, 435-39) Plaintiff was represented by attorney Robert Parker. (Doc. 11, p. 414)

The ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on July 12, 2013. (Doc. 11, pp. 10-24) Attorney Parker filed a request with the Appeals Council on July 12, 2013 to review the ALJ's decision. (Doc. 11, p. 6) The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request on February 24, 2014, whereupon the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. (Doc. 11, pp. 6-9)

Counsel brought this action on plaintiff's behalf on April 30, 2014. (Doc. 1) Plaintiff filed a motion for judgment on the administrative record on October 14, 2014 (Doc. 17), and the Commissioner responded on November 17, 2014 (Doc. 20). Plaintiff did not reply. This matter is now properly before the court.

II. REVIEW OF THE RECORD

A. Medical Evidence[2]

Doctor Darshana Patel, M.D., conducted a consultive examination of plaintiff on January 3, 2011. (Doc. 11, pp. 194-96) Doctor Patel wrote the following in his summary:

.... Based on the evaluation today he... has significant morbid obesity and decrease in range of motion of his hips likely due to a combination of pain as well as obesity....

(Doc. 11, p. 196)

Plaintiff presented to Dorothy Lambert, Ph.D., on March 8, 2011 for a consultive clinical interview and testing. (Doc. 11, pp. 197-202) Doctor Lambert reported the following:

He is markedly impaired in the ability to understand and remember short work-like procedures and locations. He is mildly impaired in concentration and persistence....

(Doc. 11, p. 201)

Horace Edwards, Ph.D., conducted a consultive mental residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment on March 29, 2011. (Doc. 11, pp. 203-06) Doctor Edwards determined that plaintiff:

Can understand, remember, and carry out one, two, and three step instructions... [h]as the ability to sustain attention and concentration for periods of at least two hours in a typical 8 hour day....

(Doc. 11, p. 205) Doctor Edwards wrote the following in the accompanying psychiatric review technique form:

Statements concerning the intensity, duration, and limiting effects of symptoms are not credible to the extent they are inconsistent with medical and functional evidence. Cl performed poorly on formal testing yet graduated high school and has one year of college. He has worked several years for the state and had other emplo[y]ment.... Totality of evidence fails to support mental retardation.... Some weight is given Dr Lambert but she proposed limitations based primarily on his poor cognitive performance and since ...

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