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Barger v. Berryhill

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

July 18, 2017

CYNTHIA COMPERRY BARGER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ALETA A. TRAUGER United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Cynthia Barger seeks judicial review, under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("SSA") denying her application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434.

         On May 2, 2017, the magistrate judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (Doc. No. 19), recommending that the plaintiffs Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. No. 13) be denied and that the SSA's decision be affirmed. The plaintiff has filed timely Objections (Doc. No. 20), to which the defendant has responded (Doc. No. 21). For the reasons discussed herein, the court will reject the R&R, grant the plaintiffs Motion (Doc. No. 13), reverse the SSA's decision, and remand the matter pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further proceedings consistent with this Memorandum.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff filed her application for DIB on March 18, 2013, claiming that she has been disabled since March 9, 2013. (Administrative Record ("AR") 66-67, [1] Doc. No. 11.) Her application alleges that she is disabled due to the residual effects of a stroke in 2001, including limited use of her right side, weakness in gripping and carrying with right hand, and unsteadiness on her feet, as well as problems rising from sitting, high blood pressure, and depression. (AR 66.)

         The SSA denied the application initially and upon reconsideration. (AR 66-77, 92-95, 78-91, 96-99.) The plaintiff requested and received a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), which was conducted on January 7, 2015. (AR 25-65, 104-05.) The plaintiff and a vocational expert appeared and testified at the hearing.

         The ALJ issued a decision unfavorable to the plaintiff on April 9, 2015, finding that the plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act and Regulations. (AR 9.) The ALJ made the following specific findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 9, 2013, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.). . . .
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: hypertension, degenerative joint disease of the left hip, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, residual effects from stroke in the hands, and adjustment 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. 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) except that she can lift and/or carry 30 pounds occasionally. She can stand and walk for at least 1 hour at a time and for at least 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. The claimant can push, pull, and grasp objects with both hands for at least 1 hour at a time and for at least 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. The claimant requires the use of a cane to ambulate. She can maintain concentration, pace, and persistence for 2 hours at a time during an 8-hour workday. . . .
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a Bookkeeper. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565). . . .
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 9, 2013, through the date of ...

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