United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
PAUL K. KITCHEN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
A. TRAUGER United States District Judge.
Paul Kitchen brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security
Commissioner's denial of his application for disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434.
January 30, 2017, the magistrate judge issued a Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) (Doc. No. 20),
recommending that the plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on
the Administrative Record (Doc. No. 14) be denied and that
the decision of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) be affirmed. The plaintiff has filed
timely Objections. (Doc. No. 24.) For the reasons discussed
herein, the court will overrule the Objections, accept the
R&R, and deny the plaintiff's motion.
2011, the plaintiff filed his application for DIB, claiming
that he had been disabled since March 1, 2011, due to back
pain and depression. The Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denied the application initially and upon
reconsideration. (Doc. No. 10 (“AR”) at 79, 80,
83, 84-86, 90.) The plaintiff requested and received a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). Two administrative hearings were
convened, the first on January 9, 2014 (AR 44-78), and the
second on July 15, 2014 (AR 25-43), after additional medical
records were made part of the Administrative Record. The
plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”) appeared
and testified at the hearings.
issued a decision unfavorable to the plaintiff on August 15,
2014, finding that the plaintiff was not disabled within the
meaning of the Social Security Act and Regulations. (AR
7-24.) The ALJ made the following specific findings:
(1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2016.
(2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since March 1, 2011, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq.).
(3) The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease and major depressive disorder (20
CFR 404.1520(c)). . . .
(4) The claimant does not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526). . . .
(5) After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(c) except with no more than frequent postural
activities of climbing, stooping, balancing, kneeling,
crouching, and crawling; must avoid concentrated exposure to
hazards; has the ability to understand, remember, and carry
out simple, detailed, and multi-step detailed, but no complex
and not [sic] executive level tasks; can maintain
concentration and attention for such tasks with normal breaks
spread throughout the day; can interact appropriately with
others; and can adapt to occasional changes in the workplace
and job duties. . . .
(6) The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565). . . .
(7) The claimant was . . . 50 years old, which is defined as
an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the
alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).
(8) The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
(9) 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 the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41
and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
(10) Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569 and
404.1569(a)). . . .
(11) The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from March 1, 2011, through the
date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g)).
Appeals Council declined review of the case (AR 1), thus
rendering the ALJ's decision the “final
decision” of the Commissioner.
plaintiff filed his Complaint initiating this action on
January 11, 2016. (Doc. No. 1.) The SSA filed a timely Answer
(Doc. No. 9), denying liability. The plaintiff filed his
Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. No.
14), which the SSA opposed (Doc. No. 16), and the plaintiff
filed a Reply brief (Doc. No. 17). On January 30, 2017, the
magistrate judge issued his R&R (Doc. No. 20),
recommending that the plaintiff's motion be denied and
that the SSA's decision be affirmed.
plaintiff filed timely Objections (Doc. No. 24), and the SSA
has filed a Response in opposition ...