United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
A. WISEMAN, JR. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Pamela Jenkins' Motion for
Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. No. 14), to which
Defendant Social Security Administration (SSA) has responded
(Doc. No 18). 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. 10),
for the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs Motion for
Judgment will be DENIED and the decision of the SSA will be
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 supplemental security income
("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act
on January 7, 2011,  alleging disability onset as of January 7,
2011,  due to HIV infection, schizophrenia and
bipolar disorder. (Tr. 141.) 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).
Plaintiffs case was heard on March 29, 2013, when Plaintiff
appeared with counsel and gave testimony. (Tr. 26-61.)
Testimony was also received from an impartial vocational
expert. (Id.) At the conclusion of the hearing, the
matter was taken under advisement until April 30, 2013, when
the ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled. (Tr. 6-21.) That decision contains the following
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 7, 2011, the application date (20 CFR
416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: HIV
infection, lumbar degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis
of the left shoulder and hand; and bipolar disorder (20 CFR
3. 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 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. [T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except
she cannot more than frequently reach overhead, handle or
finger with her left arm and hand; is limited to simple
repetitive work; cannot maintain attention and concentration
for more than two hours without interruption; and cannot
interact with the public.
5. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on October 20, 1970 and was 40 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on
the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the
claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 416.968).
9. 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 416.969 and
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since January 7, 2011, the date
the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).
(Tr. 11-13, 16-17.)
17, 2014, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for
review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-5), 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.
Review of the Record
following summary of the medical record is taken from the
The claimant has a history of HIV, but treatment notes show
that the claimant's HIV is stable with good immune
response and undetectable viral load (Exs. 4F, p. 4 and 5F,
p. 3). At a May 2012 office visit, the claimant's general
appearance was described as "healthy looking." A
diagnostic imaging report of the claimant's left shoulder
from December 2010 showed AC and glenohumeral joint space
narrowing consistent with osteoarthritis.
A diagnostic imaging report of the claimant's left finger
showed osteopenia and osteoarthritic changes of the left
hand. Although the claimant displayed 50% decreased range of
motion in the left shoulder and fourth finger on several
occasions, there were no focal abnormalities noted (Exs. 4F,
p. 3 and 5F, p. 2).
The claimant presented to Seven Springs Orthopaedic and
Sports Medicine (Seven Springs) on December 14, 2012, with
complaints of a one week history of back pain with left leg
numbness and tingling. Although the claimant displayed
tenderness in the left paralumbar region into the left leg,
her stance was erect with good heel to toe gait. While
straight leg raise testing was positive, the claimant had
negative crossover straight leg raise tests. The
claimant's "EHL" and quad strengths were
symmetrical and equal. A diagnostic imaging report of the
claimant's back showed minimal changes at ¶ 4-5. The
claimant was administered injectable medication in the office
and given a steroid dose pack and Flexeril (Ex. 15F, p. 5).
The claimant returned to Seven Springs on December 29, 2012,
with complaints of persistent back pain, despite medications.
An examination of the claimant was essentially unchanged
f[rom] her previous visit, except the claimant ambulated with
a mildly antalgic gait. The claimant was sent for a magnetic
resonance imaging scan of her back (Ex. 15F, p. 3). The
claimant presented to Seven Springs on January 17, 2013, for
follow up and with complaints of excruciating back pain.
Although the claimant had paralumbar soreness over her back,
straight leg raise tests were normal. An examination of the
claimant's lumbar spine showed normal alignment. With the
exception of "EHL" weakness against resistance, the
claimant displayed no obvious reflex, sensory, or motor
deficits. The claimant's sensation was intact
subjectively. She had easily palpable pedal pulse with brisk
capillary refill. A magnetic resonance imaging report of the
claimant's back revealed mild degenerative disc disease,
but no evidence for nerve compression or central canal or
foraminal stenosis or narrowing (Ex. 15F, p. 1). The claimant
was sent for a nerve conduction study of the left lower
extremity to assess for possible peripheral neuropathy or
other root cause of her symptoms. The claimant was prescribed
Ultram and advised to return after the nerve conduction study
or sooner if she had problems (Ex. 15F, p. 2). It is
uncertain if the claimant had a nerve conduction study of her
left lower extremity because there are no additional records
from Seven Springs for review.
The claimant has received mental health treatment for bipolar
disorder at the Meharry Medical College Community Wellness
Center. The claimant presented for a psychiatry follow up on
March 7, 2011. Treatment notes document the claimant's
reports that her medication Seroquel made her do
"strange things." The claimant also reported that
her medication Depakote was working, but stopped after two
weeks. The claimant said that she stopped taking the
She told her mental health provider that she was previously
treated with Elavil and that she liked this medication (Ex.
4F, p. 5). The claimant was started on Elavil (Ex. 12F, p.
1). Treatment notes from Seven Springs document the