United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
ACCORDINGLY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
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. 13]. Now before the
Court is the Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the
Administrative Record and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 14
& 15] and the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 16 & 17]. Tammy Lynn
Roberts (“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.
October 3, 2011, the Plaintiff filed an application for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and
supplemental security income (“SSI”), claiming a
period of disability which began October 1, 2009. [Tr. 16,
115-26]. After her application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, the Plaintiff requested a hearing. [Tr. 75].
On January 22, 2014, a hearing was held before the ALJ to
review determination of the Plaintiff's claim. [Tr.
33-52]. On May 8, 2014, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff was
not disabled. [Tr. 13-32]. The Appeals Council denied the
Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-5]; thus, the
decision of the ALJ became the final decision of the
exhausted her administrative remedies, the Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on November 23, 2015, 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.
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. Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted); Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378
F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004).
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).
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)
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).
case involves an application for DIB and SSI benefits. An
individual qualifies for DIB if he or she: (1) is insured for
DIB; (2) has not reached the age of retirement; (3) has filed
an application for DIB; and (4) is disabled. 42 U.S.C. §
423(a)(1). To qualify for SSI benefits, an individual must
file an application and be an “eligible
individual” as defined in the Act. 42 U.S.C. §
1382(a); 20 C.F.R. § 416.202. An individual is eligible
for SSI benefits on the basis of financial need and either
age, blindness, or disability. See 42 U.S.C. §
is the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than twelve months.” 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A); 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a). A claimant will only be
considered disabled if:
his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such
severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work
but cannot, considering his age, education, and work
experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful
work which exists in the national economy, regardless of
whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he
lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or
whether he would be hired if he applied for work.
42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(B);
see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 415.905(a).
Disability is evaluated pursuant to a five-step analysis
summarized as follows:
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 ...