United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
the Court is Magistrate Judge Guyton's Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”). [D. 27]. He
recommends that the Court deny Mackey's motion for
summary judgment [D. 22] and grant the Commissioner's [D.
25]. Mackey has objected to certain parts of the R&R. [D.
30]. The Court will review those parts of the R&R de
novo. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).
administrative law judge deems someone not disabled, the
Court reviews that decision along two bases: whether the ALJ
applied the correct legal standards, and whether the
ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence.
Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25
F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994) (per curiam).
“Substantial evidence” is evidence that a
reasonable mind might think good enough to support a
conclusion. Id. An ALJ's decision can be based
on substantial evidence even if other evidence would support
a different decision. Crisp v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 790 F.2d 450, 453 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986) (per
curiam). When reviewing the ALJ's decision, the Court
does not resolve conflicts in the evidence. Garner v.
Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984).
seeks Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). A person
qualifies for DIB if he (1) is insured for it; (2) has not
reached the age of retirement; (3) has applied for DIB; and
(4) is disabled. 42 U.S.C. § 423(a)(1). To receive SSI
benefits, one must apply for them and be an “eligible
individual.” Id. § 1382(a). Whether
someone is an eligible individual is based on their finances
and their age, blindness, or disability. Id.
qualify for DIB or SSI benefits, then, Mackey must show that
he is disabled. To determine whether someone claiming these
benefits is disabled, the ALJ applies a five-step process:
1. If the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, he
is not disabled.
2. If the claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity,
his impairment must be severe.
3. If the claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity,
his impairment is severe, his impairment has lasted or will
last at least twelve months, and his impairment matches an
impairment listed in the Social Security regulations, then he
4. If the claimant's impairment does not prevent him from
doing his past work, he is not disabled.
5. If the claimant's impairment prevents him from doing
his past work, but other work exists in the national economy
that he can perform with his impairment, he is not disabled.
Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525,
529 (6th Cir. 1997) (discussing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520).
Mackey raises two broad objections to the R&R, both of
which focus on Step Three: his impairment meets Listing 1.04,
and it meets Listing 12.06.
first argues that his impairments satisfy Listing 1.04. This
listing requires that the claimant show that he has a
disorder of the spine resulting in a compromised nerve root,
A. Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by
neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of
the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle
weakness or muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or
reflect loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back,
positive straight-leg raising test (sitting and supine); or
B. Spinal arachnoiditis, confirmed by an operative note or
pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by appropriate
medically acceptable imaging, manifested by severe burning or
painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in
position or posture more than once every 2 hours; or
C. Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication,
established by findings on appropriate medically acceptable
imaging, manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and
weakness, and resulting in inability ...