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Bush v. Social Security Administration

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

January 11, 2017

VANESSA K. BUSH, Plaintiff,
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          WILLIAM J. HAYNES, JR. Senior United States District Judge,

         Plaintiff, Vanessa K. Bush, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3) against the Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, acting Commissioner of Social Security, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision denying Plaintiffs application for disability benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1385.[1]On My 11, 2012, Plaintiff filed her application for benefits under Title II and Title XVI, alleging an onset date of March 1, 2003 that Plaintiff later amended to January 27, 2005, and later to July 11, 2012. (Docket Entry No. 10, Administrative Record at 19, 13 88). Plaintiff asserted a disability based upon her major depressive disorder, mental limitations, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and obesity. Id. at 22. Plaintiffs applications were denied initially on March 9, 2013, and upon reconsideration on July 18, 2013. Id. at 50, 60. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on her Title XVI claim, but withdrew her Title XII application that the ALJ dismissed. Id. at 19-20.

         The ALJ denied Plaintiffs Title XVI application and found Plaintiff retained the ability to perform light work. Id. at 24. The ALJ found that Plaintiff had "severe impairments, " of "mild mental retardation, major depressive disorder, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and obesity, " but Plaintiffs varicose veins and chest pain were not severe impairments. Id. at 22-23. Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, that denied Plaintiff s request for a review. Id. at 10.

         Before the Court is the Plaintiffs motion for judgment on the record (Docket Entry No. 17) contending, in sum, that the ALJ erred in evaluating the testimony of Plaintiff, Plaintiff s mother and the opinions of Plaintiff s examining physicians as well as her finding that Plaintiff did not have a mental impairment. The Commissioner responds that the ALJ properly evaluated the testimony and her decision is support by substantial evidence. (Docket Entry No. 19).

         A. Review of the Record

         From the extensive record, the parties cite the following facts: Plaintiff was 41 years old as of the date of her latest application and 44 years old at the time of her hearing. Plaintiff was graduated from high school with a grade point average of 2.59, ranking her thirty-fourth in a class of sixty-four graduates. (Docket Entry No. 10, Administrative Record, at 320). Plaintiff notes that her "[m]ajor classes were in resource special education." Id. Plaintiffs transcript reflects grades of "S" and "E" in the ninth and tenth grade courses. Id. As Plaintiff explained at her hearing:

Q Okay. And what's the highest grade you finished in school?
A Graduated high school, 12th grade.
Q Okay. And when you were in high school, do you remember being in any special education - -
A Yes.
Q - - classes?
A From first grade all the way to 12th.
Q Okay. And were you in there all day, or did you have, like, certain classes that you recall?
A Part of the day.
Q Okay.
A Where we're - -1 wasn't there all day. I did have some regular classes, too.
Q Okay.
A Just some.
Q And what types of classes do you remember that you had your special - - A Special, spelling, English, social studies. That's the main ones. And math. Never went through algebra.

Id. at 1403-04.

         As to her employment history, between 1997 and 2007 Plaintiff worked for thirty-two different employers. Id. at 123-28. Plaintiffs longest period of work for one employer was six or seven months. H. at 123. From 2004 to 2007, Plaintiff was a seasonal employee with the Salvation Army and an averaged 4.4 employers per year. Id. at 123-28.

         Plaintiff identified her severe impairments as major depression, anxiety, mental retardation, "[a]goraphobia- [a]nxiety when placed in public places, " and high cholesterol. Id. at 231, 258. Plaintiff described her impairments as follows:

Q Okay, so, Ms. Bush, tell me what you believe is keeping you from getting a job and, keeping it full-time.
A I'm having trouble understanding, when I do do a job, instructions. I'm having trouble with my legs and knees, and -- because of the veins, and numbness in ...

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