United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
A. TRAUGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Steven Joseph brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security
Commissioner's denial of his applications for disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental
security insurance (“SSI”) under Titles II and
XVI of the Social Security Act.
13, 2017, the magistrate judge issued a Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) (Doc. No. 20),
recommending that the plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on
the Administrative Record (Doc. No. 13) be denied and that
the decision of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) be affirmed. The plaintiff has filed
timely Objections (Doc. No. 21), to which the SSA has
responded (Doc. No. 22). For the reasons discussed herein,
the court will overrule the Objections, accept the R&R,
and deny the plaintiff's motion.
plaintiff filed his applications for DIB and SSI on June 27,
2013, with a protective filing date of June 4, 2013, claiming
that he had been disabled since November 1, 2007.
(See Administrative Record (AR) 274-87, Doc. No.
11.) He later amended the onset date to May 12, 2013. (AR
denied the application initially and upon reconsideration.
(AR 102-59, 163-68, 174-81.) The plaintiff requested and
received a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), which was conducted on October 30, 2015.
(AR 46-101.) The plaintiff and a vocational expert appeared
and testified at the hearing. The plaintiff was represented
at the hearing by a non-attorney representative.
issued a decision unfavorable to the plaintiff on December
11, 2015, finding that the plaintiff was not disabled within
the meaning of the Social Security Act and Regulations. (AR
24-40.) The ALJ made the following specific findings:
The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through March 30, 2017.
The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 12, 2013, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq., and 20 CFR 416.971 et
seq.). . . .
The claimant has the following severe impairments: cervical
degenerative disc disease; left eye blindness and
photosensitivity; personality disorder with maladaptive
personality traits; anxiety disorder; bi-polar disorder;
somatic symptoms disorder; attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder; and autism spectrum / Asperger's syndrome.
(20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)). . . .
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). . . .
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 417.967(c) except he can frequently
lift twenty-five pounds and occasionally up to fifty
pounds; stand and/or walk for about six hours in an eight
hour workday; sit for about six hours in an eight-hour
workday; with the non-dominant left hand, he can frequently
grab and twist and occasionally grasp; he can frequently
perform hand to finger repetitive action and frequently
work with small objects; he can frequently read size 12
print and larger; he can occasionally read smaller than
size 12 print; he can handle and work with rather large
objects; occasionally avoid hazards in the workplace, such
as boxes on the floor and doors ajar; should avoid
concentrated exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases and
poor ventilation; and he should only work around moderate
noise. He can maintain concentration, persistence, and pace
for two hours at one time over an eight hour workday;
occasionally interact with coworkers and supervisors but he
should not work with the general public; he can adapt to
infrequent changes in the workplace. . . .
The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965). . . .
The claimant was born on December 4, 1961 and was 51 years
old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching
advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR
404.1563 and 419.963).
The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and
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).
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, 415.969(a)). . . .
The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in
the Social Security Act, since May 12, 2013, through the
date of this decision. (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
Appeals Council declined review of the case (AR 1), thus
rendering the ALJ's decision the “final
decision” of the Commissioner.
plaintiff filed his Complaint initiating this action on June
11, 2016. (Doc. No. 1.) The SSA filed a timely Answer (Doc.
No. 10), denying liability, and a complete copy of the
Administrative Record (Doc. No. 11). On October 6, 2016, the
plaintiff filed his Motion for Judgment on the Administrative
Record and supporting Brief (Doc. Nos. 13, 14), which the SSA
opposed (Doc. No. 17). The plaintiff filed a Reply. (Doc. No.
18.) On June 13, 2017, the magistrate judge issued his
R&R (Doc. No. 20), recommending that the plaintiff's
motion be denied and that the SSA's decision be affirmed.
plaintiff filed Objections to the R&R (Doc. No. 21); the
SSA has filed a Response in opposition to the Objections
(Doc. No. 22).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
magistrate judge issues a report and recommendation regarding
a dispositive pretrial matter, the district court must review
de novo any portion of the report and recommendation
to which a proper objection is made. Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(1)(C); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); United States
v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 603 (6th Cir. 2001); Massey
v. City of Ferndale, 7 F.3d 506, 510 (6th Cir. 1993).
Objections must be specific; a general objection to the
R&R is not sufficient and may result in waiver of further
review. Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir.
1995). In conducting its review of the objections, the
district court “may ...