United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
DEBORAH G. CLARK, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BROWN United States Magistrate Judge
Honorable Kevin H. Sharp, Chief United States District Judge
Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g) and 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) denying her applications
for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.
For the following reasons, the Magistrate Judge
RECOMMENDS that the Plaintiff's motion
for judgment on the administrative record (Doc. 16) be
DENIED and the Commissioner's decision
Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income in 2011. (Doc. 13, pp.
115-116). The SSA denied her applications initially
and upon reconsideration. (Doc. 13, pp. 115-116, 123-124).
After an administrative hearing (Doc. 13, pp. 37-62), the
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) issued an
unfavorable decision (Doc. 13, pp. 125-144). The Appeals
Council vacated the decision and remanded the case to the
ALJ. (Doc. 13, pp. 145-149). After conducting a second
administrative hearing (Doc. 13, pp. 64-96), the ALJ again
issued an unfavorable decision (Doc. 13, pp. 10-35). The
Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's decision.
(Doc. 13, pp. 1-6).
Plaintiff then filed a complaint seeking review of the
ALJ's decision. (Doc. 1). This case was referred to the
undersigned pursuant to Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A)-(B). (Doc. 5).
Presently pending is the Plaintiff's motion for judgment
on the administrative record (Doc. 16) to which the Defendant
responded (Doc. 18). No reply was filed. The matter is ripe
THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD AND DECISION
Plaintiff does not question the ALJ's residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) determination and solely
challenges the transferability of her vocational skills, her
medical records are not relevant to this Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”). While the
administrative record (Doc. 13) is incorporated herein by
reference, only the portion pertinent to the Plaintiff's
claims of error is discussed in detail.
The Administrative Hearing
the administrative hearing the vocational expert
(“VE”) testified that the Plaintiff's
clerical skills of typing, data entry, filing, billing,
handling mail, taking appointments, and social interaction
from her previous job as a medical assistant were
transferable to the roles of medical records clerk, medical
office receptionist, and hospital admitting clerk. (Doc. 13,
pp. 87-88, 92). An individual with the Plaintiff's RFC
could perform these three new jobs and a variety of
sedentary, unskilled jobs. (Doc. 13, pp. 88-90).
Plaintiff's prior job as a medical assistant was
classified as skilled, light, specific vocational profile
(“SVP”) 6. (Doc. 13, p. 85). The three new
positions were classified as semiskilled and sedentary. (Doc.
13, pp. 87-88).
three new jobs existed in significant numbers locally and
nationally: medical records clerk-1, 800 jobs in Tennessee
and 110, 000 in the country; medical office receptionist-800
jobs in Tennessee and 52, 000 in the country; and hospital
admitting clerk-1, 300 in Tennessee and 100, 000 in the
country. (Doc. 13, pp. 87-88).
to the VE, an individual engaged in clerical and billing
practices in the medical field now requires retraining after
being absent for a year to eighteen months. (Doc. 13, p. 91).
A few years ago, retraining would be required within eight to
twelve months. (Doc. 13, p. 91). An individual who has been
out of the skilled position for ten years would require
substantial retraining concerning procedure codes and
software usage. (Doc. 13, p. 91). Disuse of these clerical
skills would result in a functional decline over time, but
some skills would be retained. (Doc. 13, p. 92). Whereas
billing practices have changed quite a bit over time, data
entry skills would be retained if the individual could
frequently use her upper extremities. (Doc. 13, pp. 92-93).
the Plaintiff was fifty-two years old and had a GED
education, the VE's testimony concerning transferability
did not change. (Doc. 13, p. 96).
The Administrative Decision
considering the record and the hearing testimony, the ALJ
made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
(1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through September 30, 2013.
(2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since December 8, 2011, the amended alleged onset
date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et
(3) The claimant has the following severe impairments:
obesity, left ankle sprain with history of fusion, Hepatitis
C, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, mood
disorder and personality ...