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Agee v. Berryhill

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

March 29, 2017

KIMBERLY J. AGEE
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL[1]Acting Commissioner of Social Security

          To: The Honorable Kevin H. Sharp, Chief District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          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 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. 20), to which Defendant has filed a response (Docket Entry No. 24). Plaintiff has also filed a subsequent reply to Defendant's response (Docket Entry No. 29), to which Defendant has filed a surreply (Docket Entry No. 33).

         Upon review of the administrative record as a whole and consideration of the parties' filings, the undersigned Magistrate Judge respectfully recommends that Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Docket Entry No. 20) be GRANTED, the decision of the Social Security Administration be REVERSED, and this matter be REMANDED for further administrative proceedings consistent with this Report.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff filed an application for SSI on May 1, 2008 and filed an application for a period of disability and DIB on May 5, 2008. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (Docket Entry No. 8) at 76-77.[2] She alleged a disability onset date of June 14, 2007, which was later amended to January 1, 2010. AR 26, 28, 76-77. Plaintiff asserted that she was unable to work because of back pain and kidney stones, and later claimed that she suffered from depression. AR 52-53, 88-89, 98-99.

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 78-79, 84, 94-99. Pursuant to her request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ Roy J. Richardson on June 11, 2010. AR 35. The ALJ subsequently denied the claim. AR 23-25.[3] The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision on July 20, 2012 (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 and made the following enumerated findings based upon the record:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2012.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2010, the amended onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, morbid obesity, and depression (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
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4. The claimant does not have 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).
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5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift/carry 10 pounds occasionally. The claimant would be unable to lift/carry any objects frequently, stand/walk more than 5 hours in an 8-hour workday, and bend/twist. The claimant would be able to sit 8 hours in an 8-hour workday. The claimant would be able to understand, remember, and carry out routine step instructions and respond appropriately to supervisors and coworkers in jobs that do not require independent decision making.
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6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
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7. The claimant was born on August 5, 1968 and was 38 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 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 ...

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