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Jones v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

September 29, 2017

DARYL T. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1]Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          C. 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. 15]. Now before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 16 & 17] and the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 25 & 26]. Daryl T. Jones (“the Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”), the final decision of 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.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 20, 2013, the Plaintiff filed an application for supplemental security income (“SSI”), claiming a period of disability which began February 28, 2003. [Tr. 123, 186]. After his application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, the Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 85]. A hearing was held before the ALJ on June 22, 2015. [Tr. 31-46]. During the hearing, the Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date to August 20, 2013. [Tr. 33]. On August 21, 2015, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr.14-30]. The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for review. [Tr. 1-6]. Thus, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Having exhausted his administrative remedies, the Plaintiff filed a Complaint with this Court on June 16, 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 has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 20, 2013, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: dysfunction - major joints; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and affective disorders (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. 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 416.920(d)), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except standing and walking four hours; sitting six hours; no ropes, ladders, or scaffolds; overhead reaching occasionally, bilaterally; no concentrated exposure to fumes or other respiratory irritants; no exposure to hazards; and simple unskilled.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on August 10, 1963 and was 50 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant ...

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