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Caldwell v. Berryhill

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

March 14, 2017

BRENDA K. CALDWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          FRENSLEY MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Brenda K. Caldwell's (“Caldwell”) Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (“Motion”) (Doc. No. 15), filed with a Memorandum in Support (Doc. No. 16). Defendant Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion (Doc. No. 17). On January 12, 2017, this case was referred to Magistrate Judge Frensley (Doc. No. 20). The Court hereby withdraws that referral. (Doc. No. 20.) In addition, upon consideration of the parties' filings and the transcript of the administrative record (Docket No. 10), [1] and for the reasons given below, the Court DENIES Caldwell's Motion and the Complaint is hereby DISMISSED.

         I. Introduction

         On July 23, 2010 Caldwell filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act, alleging a disability date onset of July 1, 2004. (A.R. 26.) Caldwell later amended her disability onset date to December 31, 2006. (Id.) Her claim was denied at the initial and reconsideration stages of state agency review. She subsequently requested de novo review of her case by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). The ALJ heard the case on April 1, 2011, when Caldwell appeared with a representative and gave testimony. (Id.) Testimony was also received from an impartial vocational expert. At the conclusion of the hearing, the matter was taken under advisement until June 26, 2012, when the ALJ issued a written decision finding Caldwell not disabled prior to March 1, 2010. (Id.) That decision contains the following enumerated findings:

1. Caldwell meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2006, the alleged onset date.
2. Caldwell has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date (20 C.F.R. 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. Since the alleged onset date, Caldwell has the following severe impairments: carpal tunnel syndrome; fibromyalgia; back and neck pain; and hypertension. Beginning on the established onset date of disability, March 1, 2010, Caldwell has had the following severe impairments: carpal tunnel syndrome; fibromyalgia; back and neck pain; degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; irritable bowel syndrome; and vertigo (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. Since the alleged onset date, Caldwell does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, … prior to March 1, 2010, the date Caldwell became disabled, she had the residual functional capacity to lift and carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; sit four to five hours total in at an eight-hour workday; stand and walk a total of two to three hours in an eight-hour workday; alternate sitting and standing at will; frequently balance; occasionally stoop, crouch, climb, and reach; and never kneel or crawl.
6. Beginning on March 1, 2010 Caldwell had the residual functional capacity to lift and carry up to 10 pounds; sit 30 minutes; stand and walk for 15 minutes at one time and for 60 minutes total in an eight-hour workday; alternate sitting and standing at will; frequently balance; occasionally stoop, balance, and raise the right arm over shoulder level; frequently raise the left arm over shoulder level; occasionally be exposed to dangerous equipment, motor vehicles, dusts, smoke, or fumes; limited distance vision; occasionally need to elevate both legs; and be expected to miss four or more days of work per month.
7. Since December 31, 2006, Caldwell has been unable to perform any past relevant work (20 C.F.R. 404.1565 ad 416.965).
10. Prior to March 1, 2010, transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that Caldwell is not “not disabled” whether or not she had transferable job skills. Beginning on March 1, 2010, Caldwell was unable to transfer job skills to other occupations (See SSR 82-41 and 20 C.F.R. 404, Subpart P, Appx. 2).
11. Prior to March 1, 2010, considering Caldwell's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that she could have performed (20 C.F.R. 404.1569, 401.1569a, 416.969, and 416.969a).
12. Beginning on March 1, 2010, considering Caldwell's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were no jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that she could have perform (20 C.F.R. 404.1560(c), 404.1566, 416.960(a), and 416.966).
13. Caldwell was not disabled prior to March 1, 2010, but became disabled on that date and has continued to be disabled through the date of this decision (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
14. Caldwell was not under a disability within the meaning of the Social Security Act at any time through December 31, 2006, the date last insured (20 ...

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