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Hudson-Kane v. Berryhill

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

March 28, 2017

NANCY A. BERRYHILL[1]Acting Commissioner of Social Security


          BARBARA D. HOLMES United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff 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 (“Commissioner”), denying Plaintiff's claim for a period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), as provided under Titles 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. 17). Plaintiff has also filed a subsequent reply to Defendant's response (Docket Entry No. 18). This action is before the undersigned for all further proceedings pursuant to the consent of the parties and referral of the District Judge in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) (Docket Entry No. 23).

         Upon 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.


         Plaintiff filed applications for a period of disability, DIB, and SSI on June 4, 2009. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (Docket Entry No. 10) at 49-50.[2] She alleged a disability onset date of June 17, 2005. AR 49-50.[3] Plaintiff asserted that she was unable to work because of mental impairments. AR 57.[4]

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 49-52. Pursuant to her request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ Scott Shimer on July 27, 2011. AR 32. On September 16, 2011, the ALJ denied the claim. AR 9-11. On November 9, 2012, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (AR 1-6), 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 issued an unfavorable decision on September 16, 2011. AR 9-11. Based upon the record, the ALJ made the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through March 31, 2013.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 9, 2009, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: Hypertension[;] Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease; Anxiety Disorder; Depressive Disorder; Substance Abuse (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(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, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift and/or carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently, and perform other functions and tasks consistent with medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c), except as follows: She is limited to jobs that do not involve the climbing of ropes, ladders or scaffolds, with no exposure to unprotected heights or around hazardous moving machinery. From a mental perspective, the claimant is further limited to work involving simple, repetitive, routine tasks, with only occasional contact with the general public, and only gradual and infrequent workplace changes.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on August 23, 1950 and was 58 years old, which is defined as an individual of advanced age, on the amended alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to closely approaching retirement age (20 CFR 404.1562 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
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, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
*** 11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 9, 2009 (the amended alleged onset date), through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

AR 14-25.


         The parties and the ALJ have thoroughly summarized and discussed the medical and testimonial evidence of the administrative record. Accordingly, the Court will discuss those matters only to the extent necessary to analyze the parties' arguments.


         A. ...

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