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
(“Commissioner”), denying Plaintiff's claim
for 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 second motion for judgment on the
administrative record (Docket Entry No. 28), to which
Defendant has responded (Docket Entry No. 32). Plaintiff has
also filed a subsequent reply to Defendant's response
(Docket Entry No. 33). 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).
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 applications for DIB and SSI on April 21, 2012.
See Transcript of the Administrative Record (Docket
Entry No. 10) at 104-05. She alleged a disability onset date of
March 1, 2003. AR 104-05. Plaintiff asserted that she was
unable to work because of major depressive disorder, a
Cluster B personality disorder, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), reading
disorder, arthritis in her hip, and problems in her back,
neck, and hip. AR 69, 86.
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
AR 104-05, 140-41. Pursuant to her request for a hearing
before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”),
Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing
before ALJ Ronald Miller on December 13, 2012. AR 33. On
January 24, 2013, the ALJ denied the claim. AR 8-10. On April
8, 2013, 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 an unfavorable decision on January 24, 2013. AR 8-10.
Based upon the record, the ALJ made the following enumerated
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through March 31, 2008.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since March 1, 2003, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: mild
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar and cervical spine;
arthritis in the hips; post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
mood disorder; and personality 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, 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 sedentary work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except [she] can lift and
carry up to 20 pounds occasionally with no sitting
restrictions. Claimant can stand and walk for 4 hours in an
8-hour workday. Claimant should have direct supervision that
is non-confrontational. Claimant can occasionally interact
with the general public and co-workers, but would be better
working with things rather than people. Claimant can set
goals independently and adapt to infrequent change.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on September 20, 1974 and was 28
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-44, on the alleged disability onset date. (20 CFR 404.1563
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not an issue in this case
because the claimant's past relevant work is unskilled
(20 CFR 404.1568 and 416.968).
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 1, 2003, through the
date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
REVIEW OF THE RECORD
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'
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Standard of Review
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.
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