United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
and the consent of the parties. Now before the Court is the
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in
Support [Docs. 14 & 15] and the Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 16
& 17]. Jackie Harold Matthews (“Matthews”)
seeks judicial review of the decision of the Administrative
Law Judge (“the ALJ”), the final decision of the
Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social
Security (“the Commissioner”).
filed for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits and SSI in
October, 2012 (Tr. 151-152). The application was denied (Tr.
97-100) and denied again on reconsideration (Tr. 108-11).
Following a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) entered an unfavorable decision in
October, 2014 (Tr. 8-16). The decision became final when the
Appeals Council denied review (Tr. 1-3).
was 52 years of age when the ALJ issued the Decision in this
case (Tr. 151). His past relevant work experience is as a
warehouse laborer, dish washer, and janitor (Tr. 179).
Plaintiff alleges disability based on hernias, high blood
pressure, poor reading and writing skills, left knee injury,
carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis in his hands (Tr. 178).
The Plaintiff claims an onset of disability date of November
30, 2008 (Tr. 151). Based on the medical evidence, the
testimony of Matthews, the testimony of a vocational expert,
and the entire record in this case, the ALJ concluded that
the Plaintiff was capable of performing work, and therefore,
was not disabled (Tr. 16).
Court has considered the medical evidence in the record, the
testimony at the hearing, and all other evidence in the
record. The medical history of the Plaintiff and the content
of the ALJ's Decision are not in dispute, and need not be
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing the Commissioner's determination of whether an
individual is disabled pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
the Court is limited to determining “whether the ALJ
applied the correct legal standards and whether the findings
of the ALJ are supported by substantial evidence.”
Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399,
405 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Key v. Callahan, 109
F.3d 270, 273 (6th Cir. 1997)). If the ALJ applied the
correct legal standards and his findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record, his decision is
conclusive and must be affirmed. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d 387, 390
(6th Cir. 2004). Substantial evidence is “more than a
scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance; it is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Cutlip v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286
(6th Cir. 1994) (citing Kirk v. Secretary of Health
& Human Servs., 667 F.2d 524, 535 (6th Cir.
1981)) (internal citations omitted).
immaterial whether the record may also possess substantial
evidence to support a different conclusion from that reached
by the ALJ, or whether the reviewing judge may have decided
the case differently. Crisp v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 790 F.2d 450, 453 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986). The
substantial evidence standard is intended to create a
“‘zone of choice' within which the
Commissioner can act, without the fear of court
interference.” Buxton v. Halter, 246 F.3d 762,
773 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting Mullen v. Bowen, 800
F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986)). Therefore, the Court will not
“try the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts
in the evidence, nor decide questions of credibility.”
Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984)
(citing Myers v. Richardson, 471 F.2d 1265 (6th Cir.
addition to reviewing the ALJ's findings to determine
whether they were supported by substantial evidence, the
Court also reviews the ALJ's decision to determine
whether it was reached through application of the correct
legal standards and in accordance with the procedure mandated
by the regulations and rulings promulgated by the
Commissioner. See Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
378 F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004).
review, the plaintiff “bears the burden of proving his
entitlement to benefits.” Boyes v. Sec'y. of
Health & Human Servs., 46 F.3d 510, 512 (6th Cir.
1994) (citing Halsey v. Richardson, 441 F.2d 1230
(6th Cir. 1971)).
claim before this Court two-fold: (1) that the ALJ's RFC
is not supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ
improperly evaluated the opinions of Jeffrey Uzzle, M.D. and
William Kenney, Ph.D., and (2) that the ALJ erred in applying
the medical-vocational guidelines (“guidelines”).
The Defendant argues that substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's finding that Matthews could perform work and is not
disabled. The Court agrees with the Defendant, and finds that
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision. The
Court will address the Plaintiff's arguments in turn.
The ALJ's Evaluation of the Opinion Evidence of ...