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Vaughn v. Social Security Administration

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

July 5, 2017

ELIZABETH VAUGHN, Plaintiff,
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          To: Honorable Aleta A. Trauger, District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Norah McCann King United States Magistrate Judge

         This is an action instituted under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff's application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. No. 13)(“Motion for Judgment”), Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. No. 14)(“Response”), Plaintiff's Reply Brief to “Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record” (Doc. No. 15)(“Reply”), and the administrative record (Doc. No. 12).[1] For the following reasons, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that the Motion for Judgment be DENIED, that the decision of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED, that this action be DISMISSED, and that final judgment be entered pursuant to Sentence 4 of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         Introduction

         Plaintiff filed her application for benefits in March 2012, alleging that she has been disabled since March 16, 2012, by reason of both exertional and non-exertional impairments. The application was denied initially and on reconsideration and Plaintiff requested a de novo hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). On May 16, 2013, Plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified at that hearing, as did Chelsea Brown, who testified as a vocational expert.

         In a decision dated June 24, 2013, the ALJ held that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act from her alleged date of onset through the date of the administrative decision. That decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security when the Appeals Council declined review on October 7, 2014.

         This action was thereafter timely filed. This Court has jurisdiction over the matter. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         The Findings and Conclusions of the ALJ

         In his decision, the ALJ made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

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 March 16, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.) .
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: back disorder; cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) with vitamin D deficiency; and a mood disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(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 and 404.1526).
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except the claimant is occasionally able to climb ramps and stairs, but never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She is occasionally able to balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She should avoid concentrated exposure to temperature extremes of heat and cold, wetness, humidity, vibrations, and work hazards such as machinery and heights. With regard to the claimant's mental impairments, the claimant is able to understand, remember, and complete simple and detailed instructions and tasks. She is able to maintain attention and concentration for periods of at least two hours and complete a normal workday and workweek at a consistent pace. She is able to relate appropriately to peers and supervisors. The claimant is able to adapt to routine workplace changes.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on August 15, 1971 and was 40 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education (GED) and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
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 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 16, 2012, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g)).

(Tr. 12, 13, 19-21).

         Plaintiff's Claims

         Plaintiff asserts the following claims:

1. The ALJ erred by failing to properly consider all of the Plaintiff's impairments and by failing to provide sufficient reasons for not finding these ...

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