United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
WAYNE W. STINER, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Magistrate Judge H. Bruce Guyton
R. MCDONOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Wayne W. Stiner brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) seeking judicial review of the final decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying him supplemental
security income (“SSI”). The Court referred the
matter to United States Magistrate Judge H. Bruce Guyton,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and in accordance with
Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for a
Report and Recommendation (“R&R”). On
December 14, 2016, Magistrate Judge Guyton filed an R&R
(Doc. 23) recommending that: (1) Plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment (Doc. 13) be granted in part and denied in
part; (2) Commissioner's motion for summary judgment
(Doc. 21) be granted in part and denied in part; and (3) the
case be remanded to the Commissioner for reevaluation of
Plaintiff's level of education pursuant to 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.964. Plaintiff timely filed objections to the
R&R (Doc. 24), and Defendant responded (Doc. 25). For the
following reasons, the Court will ACCEPT and
ADOPT the Magistrate Judge's R&R
did not object to the Magistrate Judge's recitation of
the facts, so the Court will not recite them here. Plaintiff
brought this action seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying his application for
SSI benefits. In reaching the decision to deny benefits, the
Commissioner, through the ALJ, analyzed Plaintiff's claim
under the five-step sequential evaluation process outlined in
20 C.F.R § 404.1520(a)(4) and summarized as follows:
1. If claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, he is
2. If claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity, his
impairment must be severe before he can be found to be
3. If claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity and
is suffering from a severe impairment that has lasted or is
expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve
months, and his impairment meets or equals a listed
impairment, claimant is presumed disabled without further
4. If claimant's impairment does not prevent him from
doing his past relevant work, he is not disabled.
5. Even if claimant's impairment does prevent him from
doing his past relevant work, if other work exists in the
national economy that accommodates his residual functional
capacity and vocational factors (age, education, skills,
etc.), he is not disabled.
Nejat v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 359 F. App'x
574, 576 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Walters v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 529 (6th
Cir. 1997)). During the evaluative process, the claimant
bears the burden of proof at steps one through four.
Id. However, at step five, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to identify jobs in the economy that the
claimant could perform considering his impairments.
four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) enabled him to
perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(c) except
that he could lift and/or carry, including upward pulling, 50
pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently. With normal
breaks in an eight-hour day, he could sit, stand and/or walk
up to six hours each. Moreover, he could perform unlimited
push/pull, including hand/foot controls, within the
exertional limitations. Additionally, the claimant could
frequently perform all postural activities and has no
manipulative, visual or communicative limitations but would
need to avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants.
Mentally, the claimant is able to concentrate and persist
sufficiently to understand, remember and carry out simple,
routine repetitive tasks and instructions as well as
low-level detailed ones. Lastly, he is able to adapt to
occasional changes in the workplace.
(Doc. 9, at 21.) Then, at step five, the ALJ considered
Plaintiff's level of education in attempting to reach a
determination of whether he could perform other work in the
national economy given his RFC, age, education, and other
vocational factors. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920.
Based on Plaintiff's representations that he had obtained
a GED, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had a high school