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Chaffin v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division

September 11, 2017

JEFFERY KENDELL CHAFFIN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security[1] Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Jeffery Kendell Chaffin filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's claim for a period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), as provided under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). The case is currently pending on Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. No. 16), to which Defendant has responded (Doc. No. 20).

         Upon review of the administrative record as a whole and consideration of the parties' filings, Plaintiff's motion (Doc. No. 16) is DENIED and the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Chaffin first filed applications for DIB and SSI on May 18, 2009, with an alleged disability onset date of February 1, 2007, in which he claimed that he was unable to work due to depression, anxiety disorder, high blood pressure, diabetes, “learning difficulties, ” and hypothyroidism. (Doc. No. 10, Transcript of the Administrative Record at 19, 38-39.)[2] Both applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 107. Following an administrative hearing, an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) denied the claim. AR 19. The Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision on April 26, 2012, at which point Plaintiff filed suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. AR 19. The court affirmed the decision of the Commissioner on March 26, 2014. AR 19, 38-56.

         Plaintiff again filed applications for DIB and SSI on June 6, 2012. AR 136-37. Similar to his first applications, Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date of February 1, 2007 and again claimed that he was unable to work due to depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and diabetes. AR 182.[3]

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 176-77. Pursuant to his request for an additional hearing before an ALJ, he appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ Joan A. Lawrence on July 24, 2014. AR 57. On November 12, 2014, the ALJ denied the claim. AR 16-18. On April 5, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (AR 1-3), thereby making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. This civil action was thereafter timely filed, and the Court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. THE ALJ FINDINGS

         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on November 12, 2014, in which she made the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2013.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 1, 2007, the alleged onset date. (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: hypothyroidism, hypertension, anxiety disorder, and depressive disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
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4. 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).
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5. 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 416.967(c) except he could occasionally climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds and frequently climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. He should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold temperatures. He is capable of carrying out simple and detailed one, two, and three step instructions.
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6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a chicken hanger and box assembler. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual ...

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