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Stinson v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

September 27, 2017

SHELIA STINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Clifford Shirley, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge.

         This 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. 12]. Now before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 10 & 11] and the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 15 & 16]. Shelia Stinson (“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 GRANT the Plaintiff's motion, and DENY the Commissioner's motion.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On December 10, 2012, the Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits, claiming a period of disability which began January 3, 2005. [Tr. 133-35]. After her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, the Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 87]. During the hearing, the Plaintiff amended her alleged onset date to May 31, 2009, the same day as her date last insured. [Tr. 36]. Following the hearing [Tr. 27-60], the ALJ rendered a decision on November 17, 2014, finding that the Plaintiff was not disabled [Tr. 14-26]. The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-4]; thus, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Having exhausted her administrative remedies, the Plaintiff filed a Complaint with this Court on May 17, 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.

         II. ALJ FINDINGS

         The ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on March 31, 2009.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of January 3, 2005 through her date last insured of March 31, 2009.
3. Through the date last insured, there were no medical signs or laboratory findings to substantiate the existence of a medically determinable impairment.
4. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from January 3, 2005, the alleged onset date through March 3, 2009, the date last insured.

[Tr. 14-26].

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When 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. ...


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