United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
JANELLE D. GOODWIN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
and the consent of the parties [Doc. 19]. 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. 20 & 21]. Janelle D. Goodwin (“the
Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of the decision of
the Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”), the
final decision of the Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security (“the
Commissioner”). For the reasons that follow, the Court
will DENY the Plaintiff's motion, and
GRANT the Commissioner's motion.
In April 2014, the Plaintiff filed an application for
disability insurance benefits and for supplemental security
income, claiming a period of disability that began on
February 3, 2014. [Tr. 238, 286, 312]. After her application
was denied initially and upon reconsideration, the Plaintiff
requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 144]. Following a
hearing, the ALJ found the Plaintiff was “not
disabled.” [Tr. 21-34]. The Appeals Council denied the
Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-6], making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted her administrative remedies, the Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on July 12, 2016, seeking judicial
review of the Commissioner's final decision under Section
405(g) of the Social Security Act. [Doc. 1]. The parties have
filed competing dispositive motions, and this matter is now
ripe for adjudication. Having considered the medical evidence
in the record, the testimony at the hearing, and all other
evidence in the record, the Court finds that the medical
history of the Plaintiff and the content of the ALJ's
decision are not in dispute, and need not be repeated here.
Court notes the Plaintiff's brief is 29 pages with
excessive footnotes (69 in total). The Court directs
Plaintiff's counsel to Local Rule 7.1(b) which states,
briefs “shall not exceed 25 pages in length unless
otherwise ordered by the Court.” E.D. Tenn. L.R.
7.1(b). Counsel is directed to seek leave of Court for future
filings that exceed the 25 page limit.
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's
decision 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
and whether the ALJ's findings are supported by
substantial evidence. Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004); Blakley v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir.
2009) (citation omitted).
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)
(citations omitted). It is 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) (citation omitted).
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) (citation omitted).
Plaintiff contends that the ALJ's residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) determination and step five
finding are not supported by substantial evidence.
is evaluated pursuant to a five-step analysis summarized as
1. If claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, he is
2. If claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity, his
impairment must be severe before he can be found to be
3. If claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity and
is suffering from a severe impairment that has lasted or is
expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve
months, and his impairment meets or equals a listed