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Lynch v. Social Security Administration

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

May 30, 2017

THELMA J. LYNCH, Plaintiff,
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Thelma J. Lynch's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. No. 15), to which the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has responded (Doc. No. 17.) Plaintiff did not file a reply to the SSA's response. Upon consideration of the parties' briefs and the transcript of the administrative record (Doc. No. 12), [1] and for the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment will be DENIED and the decision of the SSA will be AFFIRMED.

         I. Magistrate Judge Referral

         In order to ensure the prompt resolution of this matter, the Court will VACATE the referral to the Magistrate Judge.

         II. Introduction

         Plaintiff filed an application for supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act on March 15, 2011, and an application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act on March 22, 2011, [2] alleging disability onset as of January 1, 2009, due to diabetes, neuritis, asthma, high blood pressure and migraines. (Tr. 333.) Her claim to benefits was denied at the initial and reconsideration stages of state agency review. Plaintiff subsequently requested de novo review of her case by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Plaintiff's case was heard on December 10, 2012, when Plaintiff appeared with counsel and gave testimony. (Tr. 219-54.) Testimony was also received from an impartial vocational expert (“VE”). (Id.) At the conclusion of the hearing, the matter was taken under advisement until February 1, 2013, when the ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 196-214.) That decision contains the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2013.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2009, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The earnings record and the claimant's testimony establish that the claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA) since the alleged onset date.
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. [T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform lifting and/or carrying of 50 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; standing and/or walking of 2 hours, 30 minutes at one time, in an 8 hour workday; sitting of 7 hours in an 8 hour workday; occasional overhead reaching; frequent other reaching; frequent postural activities; occasional climbing of ladders and stairs; the avoidance of concentrated exposure to fumes, dust, gases, irritating inhalants, and temperature extremes; an ability to understand and carry out detailed tasks and instructions; have occasional interaction with the public; and have frequent interaction with coworkers and supervisors.
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 (a younger individual age 18-49) on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to closely approaching advanced age (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a high school equivalence 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 82-41and 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 January 1, 2009, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

(Tr. 198-99, 201, 208-09.)

         On April 24, 2014, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-6), 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 conclusive. Id.

         III. ...


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