United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CLIFTON L. CORKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the United States Magistrate Judge, with the
consent of the parties and by order of reference [Doc. 12]
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636, for disposition and entry
of a final judgment. Plaintiff's application for
disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act
was administratively denied following a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). This is an
action for judicial review of that final decision of the
Commissioner. Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings [Doc. 13], and the defendant Commissioner has
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 15].
Standard of Review
sole function of this Court in making this review is to
determine whether the findings of the Commissioner are
supported by substantial evidence in the record.
McCormick v. Secretary of Health & Hum. Servs.,
861 F.2d 998, 1001 (6th Cir. 1988). “Substantial
evidence” is defined as evidence that a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support the challenged
conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389
(1971). It must be enough to justify, if the trial were to a
jury, a refusal to direct a verdict when the conclusion
sought to be drawn is one of fact for the jury. Consolo
v. Fed. Maritime Comm'n, 383 U.S. 607 (1966). The
Court may 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). Even if the reviewing court were to resolve
the factual issues differently, the Commissioner's
decision must stand if supported by substantial evidence.
Liestenbee v. Sec. of Health & Hum. Servs., 846
F.2d 345, 349 (6th Cir. 1988). Yet, even if supported by
substantial evidence, “a decision of the Commissioner
will not be upheld where the SSA fails to follow its own
regulations and where that error prejudices a claimant on the
merits or deprives the claimant of a substantial
right.” Bowen v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 478
F.3d 742, 746 (6th Cir. 2007).
applicable administrative regulations require the
Commissioner to utilize a five-step sequential evaluation
process for disability determinations. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4). Although a dispositive finding at any step
ends the ALJ's review, see Colvin v. Barnhart,
475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007), the complete sequential
review poses five questions:
1. Is the claimant engaged in substantial gainful activity?
2. Does the claimant suffer from one or more severe
3. Do the claimant's severe impairments, alone or in
combination, meet or equal the criteria of an impairment set
forth in the Commissioner's Listing of Impairments (the
“Listings”), 20 C.F.R. Subpart P, Appendix 1?
4. Considering the claimant's RFC, can he or she perform
his or her past relevant work?
5. Assuming the claimant can no longer perform his or her
past relevant work -- and also considering the claimant's
age, education, past work experience, and RFC -- do
significant numbers of other jobs exist in the national
economy which the claimant can perform?
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). The claimant bears the
ultimate burden of establishing disability under the Social
Security Act's definition. Key v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 109 F.3d 270, 274 (6th Cir. 1997). However,
“[t]he burden shifts to the Commissioner at [the] fifth
step to establish the claimant's ability to do other
work.” Foster v. Halter, 279 F.3d 348, 354
(6th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted).
Procedural History and Relevant Facts
Venida Sue Hosier, was born in 1964 and was a younger
individual at the time of her application for benefits.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d). She filed an
application for disability insurance benefits alleging
disability due to seizures, diabetes, imbalance, and slurred
speech (Tr. 143). Plaintiff's application was initially
denied on December 4, 2012, and again upon reconsideration on
May 17, 2013 (Tr. 15). On October 31, 2014, the ALJ conducted
an administrative hearing, during which Plaintiff and a
vocational expert testified (Tr. 28-49).
evaluating Plaintiff's claim, the ALJ conducted the
five-step analysis. The ALJ issued his opinion on April 24,
2015, with the following findings, ...