Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hansard v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

March 30, 2017

THOMAS JEFFERSON HANSARD, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,[1]Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

         This case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the consent of the parties [Doc. 14]. Now before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 16 & 17] and the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 18 & 19]. Thomas Jefferson Hansard (“Hansard”) seeks judicial review of the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”), the final decision of the Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (“the Commissioner”).

         Hansard filed for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits and SSI, alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 2011 (Tr. 109-112). The application was denied on March 28, 2012 (Tr. 64) and again on reconsideration on April 24, 2012 (Tr. 69). Following a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) entered an unfavorable Decision on August 13, 2014 (Tr. 11-22). The Decision became final when the Appeals Council denied review on July 31, 2015 (Tr. 1-4).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Hansard was 58 years of age when the ALJ issued the Decision in this case. His past relevant work experience is as a carpenter, a vocation he pursued for at least twenty (20) years (Tr. 32). Although he alleges a disability onset date of January, 2011, Hansard continued to work “small jobs” on a self-employed basis throughout 2011-2013 (Tr. 13). For example, he testified that he unloaded and set up displays and tables for “time share shows” (Tr. 33-34). Another example is “hanging doors” and other carpentry work, as well as mowing grass and doing plumbing repairs (Tr. 16, 21, 256).

         The Plaintiff alleges disability based on shoulder and knee pain and claims of fatigue, which he attributes to hepatitis (a condition for which he and his attorney conceded he has received no treatment and has no medical history) (Tr. 31).

         The ALJ concluded that the Plaintiff was capable of doing his past work as a carpenter, and therefore, was not disabled.[2]

         The Court has considered the medical evidence in the record, the testimony at the hearings, and all other evidence in the record. The medical history of the Plaintiff and the content of the ALJ's Decision are not in dispute, and need not be repeated here.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When reviewing the Commissioner's determination of whether an individual is disabled pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court is limited to determining “whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and whether the findings of the ALJ are supported by substantial evidence.” Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Key v. Callahan, 109 F.3d 270, 273 (6th Cir. 1997)). If the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and his findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record, his decision is conclusive and must be affirmed. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d 387, 390 (6th Cir. 2004). Substantial evidence is “more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994) (citing Kirk v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 667 F.2d 524, 535 (6th Cir. 1981)) (internal citations omitted).

         It is immaterial whether the record may also possess substantial evidence to support a different conclusion from that reached by the ALJ, or whether the reviewing judge may have decided the case differently. Crisp v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 790 F.2d 450, 453 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986). The substantial evidence standard is intended to create a “‘zone of choice' within which the Commissioner can act, without the fear of court interference.” Buxton v. Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 773 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986)). Therefore, the Court will not “try the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor decide questions of credibility.” Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984) (citing Myers v. Richardson, 471 F.2d 1265 (6th Cir. 1972)).

         In addition to reviewing the ALJ's findings to determine whether they were supported by substantial evidence, the Court also reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether it was reached through application of the correct legal standards and in accordance with the procedure mandated by the regulations and rulings promulgated by the Commissioner. See Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004).

         On review, the plaintiff “bears the burden of proving his entitlement to benefits.” Boyes v. Sec'y. of Health & Human Servs., 46 F.3d 510, 512 (6th Cir. 1994) (citing Halsey v. Richardson, 441 F.2d 1230 (6th Cir. 1971)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Hansard's claim before this Court is that the ALJ erred in finding that Hansard could perform past relevant work as a carpenter, based on the RFC and the testimony of the vocational expert witness at the hearing. The Defendant argues that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's finding that Hansard could perform his past relevant work as a carpenter. The ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.