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Hartel v. Berryhill

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

September 27, 2017

JERRY E. HARTEL
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL[1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security

          MEMORANDUM

          BARBARA D. HOLMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         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 his claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), as provided under Title II 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. 21. Plaintiff has also filed a reply to the response. Docket Entry 24. This action is before the undersigned for all further proceedings pursuant to the consent of the parties and referral of the District Judge in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) (Docket Entry Nos. 26 and 27).

         Upon review of the administrative record as a whole and consideration of the parties' filings, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED. For the reasons stated herein, the Court REVERSES the decision of the Commissioner and REMANDS this case for further administrative proceedings.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB on May 7, 2010. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (Docket Entry No. 12) at 95.[2] He alleged a disability onset date of June 7, 2009. AR 95. Plaintiff asserted that he was unable to work because of degenerative disc disease. AR 104.

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 95-96. Pursuant to his request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ Frank L. Gregori on April 12, 2012. AR 55. On May 11, 2012, the ALJ denied the claim. AR 40-42. On August 5, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a review of the ALJ's decision (AR 33-35), 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 May 11, 2012. AR 40-42. Based upon the record, the ALJ made the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2014.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 7, 2009, his alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
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3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, status-post left hemilaminectomy at ¶ 4-5, and status post discectomy and laminectomy (20 CFR 404.1520(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, and 404.1526).
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5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). Specifically, the claimant can lift and carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently and stand, walk, and sit for six hours each in an eight-hour workday, with normal breaks. He needs to have the option to alternate between sitting and standing every 60 minutes. He can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, but can occasionally climb ramps and stairs. He can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl, but must avoid concentrated exposure to vibration.
***
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a store manager and restaurant manager. This work does not require the performance of work related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity. (20 CFR 404.1565).
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7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from June 7, 2009, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).

AR 45-51.

         III. ...


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