Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Coffey v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga

August 16, 2017

LESLIE D. COFFEY Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          SUSAN K. LEE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Leslie D. Coffey (“Plaintiff”) brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner” or “Defendant”) denying his disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). Each party moved for a judgment [Docs. 16 & 18] with supporting briefs [Docs. 17 & 19]. This matter is now ripe. For the reasons stated below, (1) Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings shall be DENIED; (2) the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment shall be GRANTED; and (3) the decision of the Commissioner shall be AFFIRMED.

         I. ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

         As agreed by the parties, and as reflected in the transcript of the administrative proceedings [Doc. 12 (“Tr.”)], Plaintiff filed for DIB on October 23, 2012, alleging disability beginning August 1, 2012. After Plaintiff's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration, a hearing on Plaintiff's claims was held before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) during which Plaintiff was represented by counsel. The ALJ issued a decision on March 13, 2015, finding that Plaintiff was not under a “disability” as defined in the Social Security Act (“Act”) (Tr. 10-23). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Plaintiff timely filed the instant action.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         A. Education and Employment Background

         As documented in the ALJ's decision, Plaintiff was born September 16, 1967 and on the date last insured was 47-years-old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49; had a work history that included work as a demolition crane truck operator; had at least a high school education; and was able to communicate in English (Tr. 22).

         B. Medical Records

         Plaintiff alleged disability due to a fractured back, ruptured discs, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, asthma, and acid reflux (Tr. 32, 171). The ALJ summarized various medical records at issue, and both parties summarized portions of the medical records in their respective briefs. The summary of the records will not be repeated herein, but all germane records concerning the physical limitations at issue in this case have been reviewed.

         C. Hearing Testimony

         At the January 15, 2015 hearing before the ALJ, Plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. The transcript of the testimony at the hearing (Tr. 29-48) has been carefully reviewed.

         III. ELIGIBILITY AND THE ALJ'S FINDINGS

         A. Eligibility

         “The Social Security Act defines a disability as the ‘inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.'” Schmiedebusch v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 536 F. App'x 637, 646 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)); see also Parks v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 413 F. App'x 856, 862 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)). A claimant is disabled “only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work, but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy.” Parks, 413 F. App'x at 862 (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)). The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) determines eligibility for disability benefits by following a five-step process. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i-v). The five-step process provides:

1) If the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, the claimant is not disabled.
2) If the claimant does not have a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment-i.e., an impairment that significantly limits his or her physical or mental ability to do basic work activities-the claimant is not disabled.
3) If the claimant has a severe impairment(s) that meets or equals one of the listings in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of the regulations and meets the duration requirement, the claimant is disabled.
4) If the claimant's impairment does not prevent him or her from doing his or her past relevant work, the claimant is not disabled.
5) If the claimant can make an adjustment to other work, the claimant is not disabled.

Rabbers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 582 F.3d 647, 652 (6th Cir. 2009). The claimant bears the burden to show the extent of his impairments, but at step five, the Commissioner bears the burden to show that, notwithstanding those impairments, there are jobs the claimant is capable of performing. See Ealy v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 594 F.3d 504, 512-13 (6th Cir. 2010).

         B. The ALJ's Findings

         The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements through December 31, 2014 (Tr. 15). At step one of the process, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in any substantial gainful activity since August 1, 2012, the alleged onset date (Tr. 15). At step two, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease with a history of compression fracture of the lumbar spine, obesity, depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (Tr. 15-16). At step three, the ALJ found Plaintiff did not have any impairment or combination of impairments to meet or medically equal any presumptively disabling impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App'x 1 (Tr. 16-19). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work with additional limitations (Tr. 19-22)[1]. At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work (Tr. 22). At step five, after considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, and after utilizing the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App'x 2 as a framework for the decision and considering the testimony of the VE, the ALJ found there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform (Tr. 22-23). These findings led to the ALJ's determination that Plaintiff was not under a disability as defined by the Act at any time from the alleged onset date through the date of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 23).

         IV. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.