United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
A. WISEMAN, JR. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Roger Duane Martin's Motion
for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. No. 14), to
which Defendant Social Security Administration (SSA) has
responded (Doc. No 15). Plaintiff filed a reply to the
SSA's response. (Doc. No. 16.) Upon consideration of the
parties' briefs and the transcript of the administrative
record (Doc. No. 10), and for the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiffs Motion for Judgment will be DENIED and the
decision of the SSA will be AFFIRMED.
Magistrate Judge Referral
order to ensure the prompt resolution of this matter, the
Court will VACATE the referral to the Magistrate Judge.
filed an application for disability insurance benefits under
Title II of the Social Security Act on May 2, 2007, alleging
disability onset as of January 1, 2003. (Tr. 109.) Plaintiff
subsequently amended his disability onset date to March 2,
2006. (Tr. 1010.) Plaintiff claimed that the following
conditions limited his ability to work: Hypertensive
Cardiovascular Disease/Hypertension; Multiple joint
arthritis, Brittle Diabetes Impairment and Hyperthyroidism,
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Pancreatitis, Asthma,
GERD, Hyperlipidemia. (Tr. 112.) His claim to benefits was
denied at the initial and reconsideration stages of state
agency review. Plaintiff subsequently requested de
novo review of his case by an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ). The ALJ heard the case on January 9, 2009, when
Plaintiff appeared with counsel and gave testimony. (Tr.
10-41.) Testimony was also received from an impartial
vocational expert. (Id.) At the conclusion of the
hearing, the matter was taken under advisement until February
27, 2009, when the ALJ issued a written decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 45-52.) Plaintiff appealed the
ALJ's decision to this Court in Roger Duane Martin v.
Social Security Administration, Case No. 3:10-cv-0917
(M.D. Term. Oct. 1, 2010) (Nixon, J.) ("Martin
I.") Plaintiff filed his Motion for Judgment on the
Administrative Record on February 3, 2011. (Martin
I, Doc. No. 12.) After obtaining several extensions of
time, on June 17, 2011, Defendant filed a Motion to Remand to
the Social Security Administration "for further
administrative proceedings and development." (Martin
I, Doc. No. 19.) On June 20, 2011, the Court granted
Defendant's Motion and remanded the case to the Social
Security Administration. (Martin I, Doc. 21.) On
July 15, 2011, the Appeals Council issued an order remanding
Plaintiffs case to an ALJ for further consideration. (Tr.
957-61.) Specifically, the Appeals Council directed the ALJ
1. Further evaluate the evidence relating to the
claimant's impairments, including his black out spells,
diabetes mellitus, pancreatitis, pancreatic pseudocyst, and
hypothyroidism, and assess any limitations therefrom.
2. Give consideration to the nontreating source opinions
pursuant to the provisions of 20 CFR 404.1527 and Social
Security Ruling 96-6p, and explain the weight given to such
3. Give further consideration to the claimant's maximum
residual functional capacity and provide appropriate
rationale with specific references to evidence of record in
support of the assessed limitations (20 CFR 404.1545 and
Social Security Ruling 96-8p.
4. Further evaluate the claimant's subjective complaints
and provide rationale in accordance with the disability
regulations pertaining to evaluation of symptoms (20 CFR
404.1529 and Social Security Ruling 96-7p.)
5. Clarify whether Dr. Nutter was a licensed physician at the
time that he performed his examination of the claimant.
heard the case on July 16, 2012. (Tr. 890-919.) Plaintiff
appeared with counsel and gave testimony. (Id.)
Testimony was also received from an impartial vocational
expert. (Id.) At the conclusion of the hearing, the
matter was taken under advisement until October 9, 2012, when
the ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled. (Tr. 873-882.) That decision contains the following
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on June 30, 2008.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
activity during the period from his alleged onset date of
January 1, 2003 through his date last insured of June 20,
2008 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the
following severe impairments: COPD, degenerative disc disease
of the lumbar spine, black out spells, diabetes mellitus,
pancreatitis, pancreatic pseudocyst, multi-joint arthralgias,
and hypothyroidism (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR
404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the
claimant had the residual functional capacity to lift and/or
carry 20 pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; stand
and/or walk for six hours in an eight hour workday; sit for
six hours in an eight hour workday; can occasionally balance,
stoop, kneel and climb ramps or stairs; never climb ladders,
ropes or scaffolds; never crouch and crawl; and should avoid
exposure to temperature extremes, vibration, dust, fumes, and
other pulmonary irritants.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was capable of
performing past relevant work as a cashier. This work did not
require the performance of work-related activities precluded
by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR
7. The claimant was not under a "disability" as
defined in the Social Security Act at any time from January
1, 2003, the alleged onset date, through June 30, 2008, the
date last insured (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).
(Tr. 875-76, 881.)
December 13, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs
request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 862-65),
thereby rendering that decision the final decision of the
SSA. This civil action was thereafter timely filed, and the
court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). If the
ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence
based on the record as a whole, then those findings are
Review of the Record
following summary of the medical record is taken from the
The claimant testified that he was prescribed two forms of
insulin between 2006 and 2008 for his diabetes. He testified
that although he took his medications as prescribed, his
blood sugars continued to range anywhere from 24 to 420. He
said that between 2006 and 2008 he had to use a nebulizer
four times a day. The claimant testified that doctors were
not sure what caused his blackouts, but said that he felt
they were related to his blood sugar. He testified that his
blackout episodes lasted for about 15 minutes and afterwards
made him feel drained and weak. The claimant said that
between 2006 and 2008 he had pain in his lower left stomach
that traveled up to his pancreas. He said that he was
admitted to the hospital several times, during this time, for
pancreatitis. The claimant testified that his pain between
2006 and 2008, on a scale of zero to ten, was an eight in
severity. Interestingly, the claimant said that he was able
to tolerate this pain and only took aspirin for the pain. The
claimant testified that the VA prescribed him a cane in 2000.
He testified that he had neuropathy in his feet back in 2006,
and was able to feel the top of his foot, but not the bottom.
He testified that back in 2006, he had to lie down four to
five times a day for one to one and a half hours each time.
After careful consideration of the evidence, the undersigned
finds that the claimant's medically determinable
impairments could reasonably be expected to cause the alleged
symptoms; however, the claimant's statements concerning
the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these
symptoms are not credible to the extent they are inconsistent
with the above residual functional capacity assessment.
On August 29, 2007, the claimant underwent a consultative
examination with Dr. Stephen B. Nutter (Ex. 9F). The Appeals
Council order indicates that there was a question as to the
validity of Dr. Nutter's credentials at the time of the
examination. However, a "licensee detail" from the
West Virginia Board of Medicine indicates that Dr.
Nutter's medical license was active at the time of the
examination (Ex. 35F).
The claimant's medical history is remarkable for COPD,
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, black out
spells, diabetes mellitus, pancreatitis, pancreatic
pseudocyst and hypothyroidism. However, the objective
evidence fails to support the level of limitation alleged
during the period in question. The undersigned has considered
the record as a ...