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Hale v. Berryhill

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

July 24, 2017

ELMER WAYNE HALE
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner of Social Security [1]

          The Honorable Waverly D. Crenshaw, Chief District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BARBARA D. HOLMES United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's claim for a period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), as provided under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). The case is currently pending on Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Docket Entry No. 10), to which Defendant has responded. Docket Entry No. 11. Plaintiff has also filed a subsequent reply to Defendant's response. Docket Entry No. 12.

         Upon review of the administrative record as a whole and consideration of the parties' filings, the undersigned Magistrate Judge respectfully recommends that Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Docket Entry No. 10) be DENIED.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff filed applications for a period of disability, DIB, and SSI on July 14, 2011. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (Docket Entry No. 8) at 71-72.[2] He alleged a disability onset date of July 15, 2010. AR 71-72. Plaintiff alleged that she was unable to work because of lower back pain, an inner ear tumor, and anxiety. AR 79.

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 71-74. Pursuant to his request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ Elizabeth P. Neuhoff on July 25, 2013. AR 27. On November 1, 2013, the ALJ denied the claim. AR 9-11. On February 27, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (AR 1-3), thereby making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. This civil action was thereafter timely filed, and the Court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. THE ALJ FINDINGS

         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on November 1, 2013. AR 9-11. Based upon the record, the ALJ made the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through at least the date of this decision.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 15, 2009, the alleged onset date. (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative lumbar disk disease, depressive disorder not otherwise specified and anxiety disorder not otherwise specified (20 CFR 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 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 medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c). Specifically, he can lift and carry 35 pounds occasionally, 20 pounds frequently, can stand up to six hours total, can occasionally stoop and bend, and cannot work around workplace hazards, such as unprotected heights. He can understand and remember simple and detailed 1-4 step tasks, but cannot make independent decisions at an executive level. He can sustain concentration and persistence during an eight hour day with customary breaks, can interact with the public, supervisors, and co-workers on a superficial level, but would relate better to things than to people, and could set goals and adapt to infrequent change. No reading and writing should be a regular part of the job duties, such as completing forms or paperwork.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant is a younger individual (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a high school education (20 CFR 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 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, 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 July 15, 2009, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
12. The claimant's subjective complaints, including pain, have been evaluated as required under the applicable regulations and rulings.

         AR 14-21.

         III. ...


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