United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
BARBARA D. HOLMES, United States Magistrate Judge
filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)
and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of the final
decision of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) partially denying Plaintiff's claim
for a period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”), and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”), as provided under Title II and XVI of
the Social Security Act (“the
Act”). The case is currently pending on
Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative
record (Docket Entry No. 12), to which Defendant has
responded (Docket Entry No. 13). Plaintiff has also filed a
subsequent reply to Defendant's response (Docket Entry
No. 14-1). This action is before the undersigned for all
further proceedings pursuant to the consent of the parties
and the District Judge in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §
636 (c) (Docket Entry No. 22).
review of the administrative record as a whole and
consideration of the parties' filings, Plaintiff's
motion is GRANTED. For the reasons stated herein, the Court
REVERSES the decision of the Commissioner and REMANDS this
case for further administrative proceedings.
filed an application for a period of disability, DIB, and SSI
on September 12, 2008. See Transcript of the
Administrative Record (Docket Entry No. 10), at
72-77. He alleged a disability onset date of
November 1, 2002, which was later amended to June 4, 2004. AR
12, 72-77, 138. Plaintiff asserted that he was unable to work
because of neck and back pain, past surgeries, medication
side effects, and depression. AR 73, 75, 138.
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
AR 72-77. Pursuant to his request for a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff
appeared with his counsel and testified at a hearing before
ALJ Brian Dougherty on July 21, 2010. AR 27. On August 16,
2010, the ALJ entered a partially favorable decision. AR
8-10. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled
prior to May 1, 2008, but was disabled from May 1, 2008
through the date of the ALJ decision. AR 12-22. On April 20,
2012, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review of the ALJ's decision (AR 1-3), thereby making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
This civil action was thereafter timely filed, and the Court
has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
THE ALJ FINDINGS
issued a partially favorable decision on August 16, 2010. AR
8-10. Based upon the record, the ALJ made the following
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on December 31, 2006.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the amended alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. Since the amended alleged onset date of disability, June
4, 2004, the claimant has had the following severe
impairments: cervical spondylosis and lumbar degenerative
disc disease, status post two lumbar spine surgeries.
Beginning on the established onset date of disability, May 1,
2008, the claimant has had the following severe impairments:
cervical spondylosis and lumbar degenerative disc disease,
status post two lumbar spine surgeries, along with bilateral
shoulder impingement syndrome (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and
4. Since the amended alleged onset date of disability, June
4, 2004, the claimant has not had an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one
of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925, and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that prior to May 1, 2008, the date the
claimant became disabled, the claimant had the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except that he could sit
for six hours in an eight-hour workday, and he could stand or
walk for six hours in an eight-hour workday with the use of a
6. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that beginning on May 1, 2008, the claimant
has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary
work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except
he is now subject to the additional limitations expressed in
the February 17, 2009 opinion of treating physician Thomas
O'Brien, M.D., found at exhibit 10F. He can lift up to
ten pounds occasionally. He can sit, stand, or walk for up to
two hours each, both at one time and cumulatively over the
course of an eight-hour workday. He is restricted to
occasional use of the right hand for reaching, handling,
fingering, feeling, pushing, or pulling activities. He can
only occasionally use either foot for the operation of foot
controls. He can only occasionally perform all postural
activities. He can have no more than occasional exposure to
unprotected heights or moving machinery, and he can no more
than occasionally operate a motor vehicle.
7. Since June 4, 2004, the claimant has been unable to
perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
8. Prior to the established disability onset date, the
claimant was a younger individual age 18-44. The
claimant's age category has not changed since the
established disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and
9. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
10. Prior to May 1, 2008, 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.
Beginning on May 1, 2008, the claimant has not been able to
transfer job skills to other occupations (See SSR 82-41 and
20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
11. Prior to May 1, 2008, considering the claimant's age,
education, work experience, and residual functional capacity,
there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the
national economy that the claimant could have performed (20
CFR 404.1569, 404.1569a, 416.969, and 416.969a).
12. Beginning on May 1, 2008, considering the claimant's
age, education, work experience, and residual functional
capacity, there are no jobs that exist in significant numbers
in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR
414.1560(c), 404.1566, 416.960(c), and 416.966).
13. The claimant was not disabled prior to May 1, 2008, but
became disabled on that date and has continued to be disabled
through the date of this decision (20 ...