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Carter v. Berryhill

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

September 19, 2017

NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner of Social Security[1]



         Plaintiff 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 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 (Docket Entry No. 16), to which Defendant has responded. Docket Entry No. 18.

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


         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB and SSI on October 3, 2012. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (Docket Entry No. 10) at 86-87.[2] He alleged a disability onset date of July 1, 1998. AR 86-87.[3] Plaintiff asserted that he was unable to work because of lower back pain, pain in his bilateral wrists, and emphysema. AR 88.

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 86-87, 114-15. Pursuant to his request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ Donna Lefebvre on January 28, 2015. AR 40. The ALJ subsequently denied the claim on March 11, 2015. AR 22-24. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision on January 8, 2016 (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).


         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on March 11, 2015, in which she made the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2008.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 13, 2006, the alleged onset date. (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lumbar degenerative disc disease, incisional hernia and obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
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).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except the claimant could lift up to twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently. With normal breaks in an eight-hour day, he could stand and walk for up to six hours and sit for up to six hours. The claimant could occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl and climb ramps, stairs, ladders, or scaffolds. Additionally, he could frequently finger objects with the right upper extremity. The claimant can perform jobs that do not require concentrated exposure to extreme heat or cold, excessive vibration and pulmonary irritants.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on September 24, 1960 and was 45 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to closely approaching advanced age (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. 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).
10. 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, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from September 13, 2006, through the date of this decision (20 ...

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