United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
CRENSHAW, CHIEF JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
McCann King, United States Magistrate Judge
an action instituted under the provisions of 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 1383(c) for review of a final decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
plaintiff's application for supplemental security income.
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. No.
16)(“Motion for Judgment”), Defendant's
Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the
Administrative Record (Doc. No. 17)(“Response”),
and the administrative record (Doc. No. 10). For the following
reasons, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that the
Motion for Judgment (Doc. 16) be GRANTED,
that the decision of the Commissioner be
REVERSED, and that the matter be
REMANDED to the Commissioner of Social
Security, pursuant to Sentence 4 of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
for further consideration of whether Plaintiff's
intellectual impairment meets or equals Listing 12.05C.
filed her application for supplemental security income on
June 22, 2009. The application was denied initially and on
reconsideration and Plaintiff requested a de novo
hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). An administrative hearing was originally
held in December 2011, Tr. 65-83, following which the ALJ
found that Plaintiff was not disabled. Tr. 89-104. On July 2,
2013, however, the Appeals Council remanded the case for
further consideration of Plaintiff's alleged substance
use disorder, residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), and past relevant work. Tr. 110-12. A
second administrative hearing was held on October 18, 2013,
before a different ALJ. Tr. 41-64. Plaintiff, who was
represented by counsel, testified at that hearing, as did
Dana M. Stoller, who testified as a vocational expert.
decision dated December 20, 2013, the ALJ held that Plaintiff
was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security
Act from the date of her application for benefits through the
date of the administrative decision. That decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security when
the Appeals Council declined review on February 16, 2016.
action was thereafter timely filed. This Court has
jurisdiction over the matter. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
to 42 U.S.C. §405(g), judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision is limited to determining whether
the findings of the ALJ are supported by substantial evidence
and employed the proper legal standards. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389 (1971); Cole v. Astrue,
661 F.3d 931, 937 (6th Cir. 2011)(internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). Substantial evidence
is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept
as adequate to support a conclusion. Blakley v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405
(6thCir. 2009); Jones v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 475 (6th Cir. 2003). This
Court does not try the case de novo, nor does it
resolve conflicts in the evidence or questions of
credibility. Bass v. McMahon, 499 F.3d 506, 509
(6th Cir. 2007).
determining the existence of substantial evidence, this Court
must examine the administrative record as a whole. Kirk
v. Sec'y of Health and Human Services, 667 F.2d 524,
536 (6th Cir. 1982). If the Commissioner's
decision is supported by substantial evidence, it must be
affirmed even if this Court would decide the matter
differently, Tyra v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 896 F.2d 1024, 1028 (6th Cir.
1990)(citing Kinsella v. Schweiker, 708 F.2d 1058,
1059 (6th Cir. 1983)), and even if substantial evidence also
supports the opposite conclusion. Longworth v.
Commissioner Social Security Administration, 402 F.3d
591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005)(citing Warner v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d 387, 390
(6th Cir. 2004)).
Findings and Conclusions of the ALJ In her decision,
the ALJ made the following findings of fact and conclusions
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since June 22, 2009, the application date (20 CFR
416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: right
carpal tunnel syndrome status post release in 2009; obesity;
depressive disorder not otherwise specified; mild mental
retardation versus borderline intellectual functioning; rule
out personality disorder; polysubstance dependence; rule out
borderline intellectual functioning; and rule out learning
disorder (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) occasional lifting of thirty pounds, frequent
lifting of fifteen pounds, standing and walking for five to
six hours total in an eight-hour workday, and sitting for
seven hours total in an eight-hour workday. When not using
substances, the claimant can understand, remember, and carry
out simple, one- and two-step instructions only and make
simple, repetitive decisions. The claimant is able to ask
simple questions or request assistance if needed; able to
maintain attention for periods of at least two hours and
complete a normal work week with acceptable performance and
productivity under normal supervision; able to maintain
regular attendance, able to be punctual within customary
tolerances, and able to sustain an ordinary routine without
special supervision. In addition, the claimant is able to
accept instructions and respond appropriately to criticism
from supervisors; able to interact appropriately with peers
and supervisors; able to work with the general public; and
able to set goals. The claimant should avoid hazards and is
able to adapt to infrequent workplace changes.
5. The claimant is able to perform her past relevant work as
an assembler (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since June 22, 2009, the date the
application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).
Tr. 17, 21, 35-36.
and ALJ's Evaluation ...