United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
Newbern Magistrate Judge.
A. TRAUGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is Plaintiff Mary Talley's Motion for
Judgment on the Administrative Record (“Motion”)
(Docket No. 15), filed with a Memorandum in Support (Docket
No. 16). Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) filed a Response in Opposition
to Plaintiff's Motion (Docket No. 17), to which Plaintiff
replied (Docket No. 18). On May 26, 2015, this case was
referred to a Magistrate Judge. (Docket No. 3.) The court
hereby withdraws that referral. Upon consideration of the
parties' filings and the transcript of the administrative
record (Docket No. 11),  and for the reasons given below, the
Plaintiff's Motion (Docket No. 15) will be denied.
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act
and an application for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI on November 18, 2011,
both alleging a disability onset of November 14, 2010. (Tr.
11.) Talley's claim was denied at the initial and
reconsideration stages of state agency review. Talley
subsequently requested de novo review of her case by
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). The ALJ
heard the case on September 11, 2013, when Talley appeared
through counsel and gave testimony. (Tr. 35-49.) Testimony
was also received from a vocational expert. (Tr. 39-57.) At
the conclusion of the hearing, the matter was taken under
advisement until October 29, 2013, when the ALJ issued a
written decision finding Talley not disabled. (Tr. 8-30.)
That decision contains the following enumerated findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through March 31, 2016.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since November 14, 2010, the alleged onset date (20
C.F.R. 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: major
depressive disorder, obesity and osteoarthritis of the left
knee (20 C.F.R. 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 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, …
the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)
in that she can occasionally lift/carry 20 pounds and
frequently lift/carry ten pounds. She can stand/walk for six
hours in an eight-hour workday and sit for six hours.
However, she can only occasionally climb ladders, ropes and
scaffolds and can only frequently climb stairs/ramps,
balance, crawl, kneel, stoop, crouch, or handle with her
right upper extremity. She can understand, remember and carry
out simple, detailed and multistep detailed, but not
executive level tasks. She can maintain concentration,
persistence and pace for those tasks, can interact
appropriately with others, but can adapt to only occasional
changes in the workplace.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 C.F.R. 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on December 13, 1962 and was 47
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-49, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant
subsequently changed age category to closely approaching
advanced age (20 C.F.R. 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 C.F.R. 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 C.F.R. 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 C.F.R. 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 November 14, 2010, through
the date of this decision (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(g) and
(Tr. 13-16, 23-25.)
March 27, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Talley's
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).
Review of the Record
following summary of the medical record is taken from the
The claimant also had right epicondylitis and surgical repair
before the alleged onset date. By January of 2011, she was
requesting, and was released by her orthopedist, to return to
regular duty work. In October, she saw Dr. Brian Koch for
follow up after her surgery and demonstrated full range of
motion of her shoulder, elbow and wrist. He described her
tenderness as minimal and noted five out of five strength
distally. She was to return to regular duty work. There is no
loss of strength or sensation in her affected extremity
documented in the record. She also did not follow up with her
surgeon. She complained of shoulder pain when she visited her
primary care provider in August of 2011, but he did not
address the complaint in either his “assessment”
or “plan.” In the “review of the systems,
” he acknowledged her complaints with a
“yes” for arthritis, joint pain and joint
stiffness, but attached the label “no” to back
pain, and joint swelling. The examination revealed normal
gait, no muscle weakness, motor strength of five out of five
in all four extremities, no sensory/motor deficit and no
joint swelling or tenderness. It is interesting to note that
when the claimant went to Cumberland Mental Health Center in
January of 2012, the only physical problem recorded was
hypertension. When the claimant visited Dr. Gomez that same
month, she had full range of motion in both shoulders, both
wrists and both elbows.
Five months prior to her alleged onset date, the claimant
visited the emergency room at University Medical Center with
suicidal ideation in June of 2010. She reported a
longstanding depression with a “meltdown” the
previous day and was assigned a GAF score of 25. It is
interesting to note she had been to the Sumner Regional
Medical Center ER with acute back and chest pain the day
before, that is the day of the reported
“meltdown”. She did not report any emotional or
mental complaints at this visit, and in fact, her chest pain
was felt to be musculoskeletal in nature (shoulder related).
She was noted to be stable and report [sic] feeling much
better after getting pain medication. Exhibits 1F and 2F.
The claimant was kept in the hospital for five days for
psychiatric treatment. Two days after discharge, she met with
social worker, Wendy Foster for follow up at Cumberland
Mental Health Center. She was described this time as having
sad affect and depressed mood, but appropriate appearance,
behavior, insight level, judgment level and impulse level.
She had normal thought content, organized thought flow, fair
recent memory, remote memory and ...