United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
CYNTHIA K. MANNERS, Plaintiff,
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
A. TRAUGER MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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
application for supplemental security income. This matter is
before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on
the Administrative Record (Doc. No. 14)(“Motion for
Judgment”) and Memorandum in Support (Doc. No. 15),
Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for
Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. No.
16)(“Response”), Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. No.
17), and the administrative record (Doc. No.
For the following reasons, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that
the Motion for Judgment (Doc. 14) 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. § 405(g).
filed this - her second - application for benefits in April
2012, alleging that she has been disabled since May 4, 2004,
by reason of carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes, high blood
pressure, asthma, high cholesterol, back pain, depression,
and migraine headaches. Tr. 199. The application was denied
initially and on reconsideration and Plaintiff requested a
de novo hearing before an administrative law judge
administrative hearing was held on April 10, 2014. Plaintiff,
represented by counsel, testified, as did vocational expert
Rebecca G. Williams. Tr. 32-55. In a decision dated June 11,
2014, the ALJ held that Plaintiff was not disabled within the
meaning of the Social Security Act from the date of her
application through the date of the administrative decision.
Tr. 12-25. That decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security when the Appeals Council
declined review on November 3, 2015.
action was thereafter timely filed. The 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 has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 20, 2012, the application date (20 CFR
416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: history
of carpal tunnel syndrome with bilateral release,
degenerative disc disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, mild
and non-displaced tear of posterior horn in left knee,
depressive disorder not otherwise specified, and adjustment
disorder with moderate depressed mood (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. 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 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. 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 416.967(b) except that she can occasionally balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb stairs. She can never
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can have no
concentrated exposure to vibration. As for mental
limitations, she can perform a job that has simple, routine
and repetitive tasks. She can tolerate infrequent workplace
changes and can have only occasional contact with the public.
She can frequently handle and grasp bilaterally.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on March 1, 1965 and was 47 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on
the date the application was filed. The claimant subsequently
changed age category to closely approaching advanced age (20
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the
claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 416.968).
9. 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 416.969 and
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since April 20, 2012, the date
the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).
(Tr. 14, 16, 23-24).
of Relevant Evidence
March 2010, Plaintiff was consultatively examined by Donita
Keown, M.D. Plaintiff's primary complaint at that time
was carpal tunnel syndrome, which was reported to be worse
than before her bilateral carpal tunnel release in 2002. Tr.
316. Clinical findings included negative straight leg
raising, negative neurological exam, and unremarkable gait
and station; grip strength was intact. Tr. 318. Diagnoses
included bilateral upper extremity complaints of unclear
etiology; diabetes mellitus, type 2, well controlled;
hypertension; asthma; chronic low back pain attributable to
degenerative disease; chronic headache pain; and GERD.
Tr. 318-19. According to Dr. Keown, Plaintiff could
sit, and stand or walk, for 8 hours in an 8-hour workday, and
could lift up to 40 pounds occasionally and up to 25 pounds
frequently. Tr. 319.
2010, Juan Stacy Dinkins, D.O., treated Plaintiff for
complaints of increased discomfort in the lower lumbar spine
with paresthesias radiating into the lower extremity. On
examination, Dr. Dinkins noted grip strength of 5/5, positive
straight leg raising, equal and symmetric reflexes,
paresthesia in the lower extremities that resembled a L5/S1
dermatomal pattern, Tr. 365, although a subsequent nerve
conduction study was within normal limits and “[t]he
likelihood of a right L5/S1 radiculopathy or proximal
neuropathy [was] low.” Tr. 363. Dr. Dinkins also noted
difficulty with heel and toe walking. Tr. 365. X-rays of the
lumbar spine showed degenerative disk disease with disk space
and foraminal narrowing, and facet arthropathy. There was no
appreciable spondylolisthesis. Tr. 368. Dr. Dinkins diagnosed
Type II diabetes mellitus (controlled), hyperlipidemia,
hypokalemia, depressive disorder (nos), migraine,
hypertension, asthma, GERD, degenerative joint disease,
osteoarthrosis in the lower leg, lumbosacral spondylosis,
lumbosacral disk degeneration, stenosis of the lumbar spine,
and bursitis of the hip. He recommended an MRI, home therapy,
and increased activities as tolerated. Tr.365. An MRI
conducted in October 2010 revealed mild degenerative disk
disease of the lumbar spine with mild disk space and
bilateral foraminal stenosis. Tr. 512, 514. A November 2010
MRI of the left knee revealed degenerative joint disease with
a lateral meniscus tear. Tr. 380, 508, 510. During a
follow-up office visit with Dr. Dinkins in November 2010,
Plaintiff continued to complain of discomfort and pain in the
lumbar spine and knees. Tr. 512. On clinical examination,
straight leg raising was negative and reflexes were equal and
symmetric. There was difficulty with heel and toe walking.
Grip strength was 5/5. Id. In December 2010, Dr.
Dinkins again noted negative straight leg raising, equal and
symmetric reflexes, and grip strength of 5/5. Tr. 508. X-rays
of the lumbar spine and left hip taken following a fall in
October 2011 were normal. Tr. 501, 502. X-rays of the
thoracic spine show mild dextroconvex curvature. Tr. 503.
A. Perrigin, M.D., who has been Plaintiff's primary care
physician for “several years, ” Tr. 518, rendered
diagnoses of depression, hyperlipidemia, hypertension,
asthma, bilateral carpel tunnel release, GERD, and headaches.
Tr. 468, 470. Findings ...