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Norwood v. Berryhill

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

March 29, 2017

TAYLOR RAY NORWOOD
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL[1]Acting Commissioner of Social Security

          MEMORANDUM

          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 his 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. 14), to which Defendant has responded (Docket Entry No. 17). Plaintiff has also filed a subsequent reply to Defendant's response (Docket Entry No. 19). 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 DENIED, and the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB on October 12, 2010, and an application for SSI on November 23, 2010. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (Docket Entry No. 10) at 74-75.[2] He alleged a disability onset date of November 1, 2010. AR 74-75. Plaintiff asserted that he was unable to work due to fibromyalgia, diabetes, high blood pressure, and back problems. AR 82-83.[3]

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration AR 74-77. Pursuant to his request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff testified at a hearing before ALJ Donna Lefebvre on February 27, 2012. AR 35. On April 13, 2012, the ALJ denied the claim. AR 20-22. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision on May 22, 2013 (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).

         II. THE ALJ FINDINGS

         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on April 13, 2012. AR 22. 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 June 30, 2013.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 1, 2010, his alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: Cervical and lumbar degenerative disc disease (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 perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c). He can lift or carry up to fifty pounds occasionally and twenty-five pounds frequently, and can sit, stand or walk up to six hours in an eight-hour day. He can frequently balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl and climb ramps or stairs, but only occasionally climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds.
***
6. The claimant is capable of performing his past relevant work as a progressive assembler, security guard and driver[.] This work does not require the performance of work related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
***
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from November 1, 2010, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)).

AR 25-30.

         III. REVIEW OF THE RECORD

         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.

         IV. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

          A. Standard of Review

         The determination of disability under the Act is an administrative decision. The only questions before this Court upon judicial review are: (i) whether the decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence; and (ii) whether the Commissioner made legal errors in the process of reaching the decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). See Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (adopting and defining substantial evidence standard in context of Social Security cases); Kyle v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 609 F.3d 847, 854 (6th Cir. 2010). The Commissioner's decision must be affirmed if it is supported by substantial evidence, “even if there is substantial evidence in the record that would have supported an opposite conclusion.” Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 406 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Key v. Callahan, 109 F.3d 270, 273 (6th Cir. 1997)); Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 477 (6th Cir. 2003); Her v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d 388, 389-90 (6th Cir. 1999).

         Substantial evidence is defined as “more than a mere scintilla” and “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229, 59 S.Ct. 206, 83 L.Ed. 126 (1938)); Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007); LeMaster v. Weinberger, 533 F.2d 337, 339 ...


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