United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division
Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr., Chief United States District Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BROWN, United States Magistrate Judge
before the court is Plaintiff's motion for judgment on
the administrative record (Docket Entry No. 16), to which
Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) filed a response (Docket Entry
No. 19). Upon consideration of the parties' filings and
the transcript of the administrative record (Docket Entry No.
10),  and for the reasons given herein, the
Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that
Plaintiff's motion for judgment be
DENIED and that the decision of the
Commissioner be AFFIRMED.
Ronald David Tallent, filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the
Social Security Act on June 27, 2013, alleging disability
onset as of March 30, 2013, due to essential tremors,
fibromyalgia, arthritis, depression and anxiety. (Tr. 52,
claim was denied at the initial level on October 4, 2013, and
on reconsideration on January 3, 2014. (Tr. 52, 114-16,
130-35, 139-41). Plaintiff subsequently requested de
novo review of his case by an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). (Tr. 142). The ALJ heard the case on
June 6, 2015, when Plaintiff appeared with counsel and gave
testimony. (Tr. 68-95, 97-98). Testimony was also received by
a vocational expert. (Tr. 95-101). At the conclusion of the
hearing, the matter was taken under advisement until August
19, 2015, when the ALJ issued a written decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 49-62). That decision contains
the following enumerated findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2018.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since March 30, 2013, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia,
obesity, and depressive disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. 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 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(c) except frequent climbing ramps and stairs;
occasional climbing ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; frequent
balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling;
ability to do one, two, and three step instructions; and
changes introduced gradually and infrequently.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work
as a delivery driver. This work does not require the
performance of work-related activities precluded by the
claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from March 30, 2013, through the
date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).
(Tr. 54, 55, 57, 60, 62).
August 24, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-5),
thereby rendering that decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. This civil action was thereafter timely filed,
and the Court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
REVIEW OF THE RECORD
following summary of the medical record is taken from the
In terms of the claimant's alleged back problems, in
December 2011, x-rays of the lumbar spine revealed mild
degenerative disc disease (Exhibit 6F). In 2014, a magnetic
resonance image (“MRI”) of the cervical spine
revealed a posterior central right disc protrusion, and a MRI
of the lumbar spine only revealed degenerative disc changes
at T-11-T 12 and degenerative disc and facet changes at
¶ 4-5 without evidence of a herniated disc. Although a
musculoskeletal examination in 2015, revealed a decreased
range of motion . . . in extension, flexion, and lateral
rotation of the cervical spine, tenderness in the paralumbar
and lumbar spine, a right positive straight leg raise, and
restricted range of motion of the knees, it also revealed
normal muscle strength in upper and lower extremities; and
treating physicians have only recommended conservative
treatments, and no surgeries have been recommended nor
mobility assistive devices prescribed (Exhibits 11F, 13F,
Medical records also indicate a history of joint problems and
fibromyalgia. In 2008, however, an evaluation indicated no
significant abnormalities on exam or clear-cut history to
suggest obvious pathology for pain in his extremities and
balance difficulties, and an EMG/NCS revealed normal results
with no evidence of myopathy or neuropathy. The claimant has
had joint pain, but his treating physicians have only
prescribed conservative treatments of pain medications and
steroid injections. In 2015, the claimant reported that he
felt better when he took Prednisone, and an examination
revealed normal muscle sensation and normal strength in the
upper and lower extremities. Despite the claimant's joint
pain, rheumatologist Dr. Sivalingam Kanagasegar indicated no
diffuse soft tissue tender points for fibromyalgia noted.
Furthermore, no treating physician has prescribed any
mobility assistive devices or recommended surgery (Exhibits
1F, 8F, 12F, 16F, ).
Furthermore, an examination in 2015, in conjunction with Dr.
Clayton's medical source statement, and in relation to
his alleged impairments, only revealed tenderness of the left
knee, left hip, right shoulder, and neck region upon range of
motion; low back pain to deep palpation with diminished range
of motion. Otherwise, the physical examination was pleasant,
and the claimant was in no distress (Exhibit 17F).
Medical records, however, do indicate that the claimant is
obese with weight around 257 pounds, height of 5'8",
and body mass index (“BMI”) of 39.07 (Exhibit
6F). A BMI of 30 or above is considered obese. Therefore, in
accordance with SSR 02-lp, the undersigned has considered the
impact of obesity on function, including the claimant's
ability to perform routine movement and necessary physical
activity within a work environment. The undersigned finds
that the claimant's obesity, combined with his severe
impairments, does limit his exertional and nonexertional
activities such that the claimant is limited to the residual
functional capacity stated above.
As for the claimant's alleged mental impairment, the
claimant has only received appropriate medications from his
primary care physician. He has not received any formal mental
health treatment (Exhibits 8F and 10F).
During a psychological consultative examination on September
16, 2013, B. Kathryn Galbraith, Ph.D. indicated at least an
average range of intellectual functioning. He had a depressed
mood and affect mood congruent. The claimant reported that he
is able to prepare simple meals, wash dishes, vacuum, sweep,
and do laundry. He has a driver's license and drives
regularly. He also, however, stated that he does not manage
his own medications or manage his own finances. He showed
evidence of moderate impairment in short-term memory, but no
evidence of impairment in his ability to sustain
concentration and in his long-term memory and remote memory
functioning. He showed evidence of a moderate impairment in
social relating and in his ability to adapt to change. He
appeared able to follow instructions, both ...