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.

Hazelwood v. Berryhill

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

April 17, 2017

TERESA GAYLE HAZELWOOD
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner of Social Security[1]

          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 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 motion for judgment on the administrative record (Docket Entry No. 14), to which Defendant has responded (Docket Entry No. 20). Plaintiff has also filed a subsequent reply to Defendant's response (Docket Entry No. 22). This action is before the undersigned for all further proceedings pursuant to the consent of the parties and 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 applications for DIB and SSI on October 8, 2009. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (Docket Entry No. 10) at 81-82.[2] She alleged a disability onset date of June 15, 2009. AR 81-82. Plaintiff alleged that she was unable to work because of arthritis, back problems, a history of surgery on her neck and lower back, depression, and a suicide attempt. AR 99-100.[3]

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 81-84. Upon her request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ Scott C. Shimer on November 21, 2011. AR 37. On January 20, 2012, the ALJ denied the claim. AR 14-16. 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).

         II. THE ALJ FINDINGS

         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on January 20, 2012. AR 14-16. 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 December 31, 2014.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 15, 2009, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: cervical degenerative disc disease with fusion and major depressive disorder (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 Administrative Law Judge finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a limited range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b); except that she can occasionally reach overhead with the bilateral upper extremities; occasionally able to balance, bend, stoop, crouch, crawl and climb ramps and stairs; but never able to climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. Additionally, the claimant is able to have occasional contact with the public.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was 49 years old on the alleged onset date, defined as a younger individual. The claimant is currently 52 years old, defined as closely approaching advanced age. (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a high school education with one year of college, 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 June 15, 2009, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

AR 19-31.

         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 (6th Cir. 1976) (quoting Sixth Circuit opinions adopting language substantially similar to that in Richardson).

         The Court's review of the Commissioner's decision is limited to the record made in the administrative hearing process. Jones v. Secretary, 945 F.2d 1365, 1369 (6th Cir. 1991). A reviewing court may not try the case de novo, resolve conflicts in evidence, or decide questions of credibility. See, e.g., Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984) (citing Myers v. Richardson, 471 F.2d 1265, 1268 (6th Cir. 1972)). The Court must accept the ALJ's explicit findings and determination unless the record as a whole is without substantial evidence to support the ALJ's determination. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). See, e.g., Houston v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 736 F.2d 365, 366 (6th Cir. 1984).

         B. Determining Disability at 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.