United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
ALETA A. TRAUGER
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
MCCANN KING, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
an action instituted under the provisions of 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 1383 for review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's
applications for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income. This matter is before the Court
on Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative
Record (Doc. No. 9)(“Motion for Judgment”) and
Memorandum in Support (Doc. No. 10), Defendant's Response
to Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative
Record (Doc. No. 11)(“Response”), and the
administrative record (Doc. No. 5). For the following reasons,
the undersigned RECOMMENDS that the Motion for Judgment be
DENIED, that the decision of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED,
and that final judgment be entered in favor of the
Commissioner pursuant to Sentence 4 of 42 U.S.C. §
filed her current applications for benefits in January 2012,
alleging that she has been disabled since December 29, 2009,
by reason of both physical and mental impairments.
See Tr. 334. The applications were denied initially
and on reconsideration and Plaintiff requested a de
novo hearing before an administrative law judge
number of administrative hearings were held. On September 18,
2013, the ALJ continued the hearing to permit Plaintiff to
obtain counsel. Tr. 126-31. At a supplemental hearing held on
January 24, 2014, Plaintiff, appearing with counsel,
testified, as did vocational expert Chelsea Brown. Tr.
83-124. A second supplemental hearing was held on June 27,
2014, following a consultative medical examination of
Plaintiff. Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel,
testified at that hearing, as did Rebecca Williams, who
testified as a vocational expert. Tr. 49-63.
decision dated August 16, 2014, 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 December 15, 2015.
action was thereafter timely filed. This Court has
jurisdiction over the matter. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Findings and Conclusions of the ALJ
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 March 31, 2015.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since December 29, 2009, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following medically determinable
impairments: obesity, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar
and cervical spine, L4-5 spondylosis and mild stenosis,
arthritis, postural disc protrusion with annular tear at C5-6
with moderate stenosis, mild C6 radiculopathy, sciatica,
fibromyalgia, polycystic ovary syndrome, mild carpal tunnel
syndrome, left ulnar entrapment, bipolar disorder,
personality disorder, mood disorder, panic disorder with
agoraphobia, and history of alcohol abuse (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, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), except the claimant can
occasionally lift and/or carry twenty pounds, and frequently
lift and/or carry ten pounds. During an eight-hour workday,
the claimant can sit for eight hours. The claimant can stand
and/or walk for at least two hours, with normal breaks, in an
eight-hour workday. The claimant can occasionally push and/or
pull objects with her lower extremities. She can frequently
use her bilateral upper extremities for handling and
fingering. The claimant can occasionally reach overhead with
her left upper extremity. The claimant can occasionally climb
ramps and stairs, but never climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds. The claimant can occasionally balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant should avoid
concentrated exposure to extreme temperatures, and workplace
hazards such as moving machinery and unprotected heights. The
claimant can understand, remember, and carry out detailed
tasks and instructions.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work
as a Benefits Clerk and Receptionist. This work does not
require the performance of work-related activities precluded
by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR
404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from December 29, 2009, through
the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(1) and
(Tr. 22-23, 25, 39-40).
asserts the following claims:
1. The ALJ improperly assigned less weight to the treating
physician's opinion of limitations.
2. The ALJ failed to properly perform decisional duties at
Step Three of the Sequential Evaluation.
in Support (Doc. No. 10, PageID# 889-892). Plaintiff does not
challenge the ALJ's credibility determination, nor does
she challenge the vocational evidence.
to 42 U.S.C. §405(g), judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision is limited to determining whether
the findings of the ALJ are supported by substantial evidence
and employed the proper legal standards. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389 (1971); Cole v. Astrue,
661 F.3d 931, 937 (6th Cir. 2011)(internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). Substantial evidence
is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept
as adequate to support a conclusion. Blakley v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405
(6thCir. 2009); Jones v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec.,336 F.3d 469, 475 (6th Cir. 2003). This