United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
AUDREY J. BODEN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
and the consent of the parties [Doc. 11]. Now before the
Court is the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Brief in Support [Docs. 21 & 12] and the Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs.
18 & 19]. The Plaintiff also filed a Reply Brief [Doc.
17]. Audrey J. Boden (“Boden”) 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
August 2012, Boden filed an application for disability
insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act,
claiming a period of disability that began on June 5, 2012.
After her application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, Boden requested a hearing before an ALJ.
Following a hearing, the ALJ found the Plaintiff was
“not disabled” [Tr. 20-30]. The Appeals Council
denied the Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-5],
making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
exhausted her administrative remedies, Boden filed a
Complaint with this Court on June 13, 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.
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).
was 59 years of age at the date of the ALJ's decision.
Boden has a high school education and additional training as
a nurse's aid and patient care tech. She was employed as
a medical billing clerk at the time she stopped working in
November, 2010 [Tr. 39].
found that Boden was “diagnosed with multiple
impairments supported by objective medical evidence,
including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and degenerative disc
disease, which could account for the claimant's
pain” [Tr. 23]. The ALJ also found that Boden
“has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder,
panic disorder, and unspecified drug dependence, ” but
that these impairments cause no more than “minimal
limitation in the claimant's ability to perform basic
mental work activities and are therefore nonsevere”
[Tr. 23]. The ALJ concluded at step four that Boden is
capable of performing her past relevant work as a medical
billing clerk/medical receptionist, and therefore, Boden was
not under a disability during the applicable time period [Tr.
Plaintiff contends that the ALJ's residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) determination and step five
finding are not supported by substantial evidence. Boden also
challenges the ALJ's credibility finding and other
is evaluated pursuant to a five-step analysis ...