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Copeland v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

December 13, 2017

NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner of Social Security[1]

          The Honorable Aleta A. Trauger, District Judge.



         Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”), denying Plaintiff's claim for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) as provided under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). The case is currently pending on Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Docket Entry No. 17), to which Defendant has responded. Docket Entry No. 21.

         Upon review of the administrative record as a whole and consideration of the parties' filings, the undersigned Magistrate Judge respectfully recommends that Plaintiff's motion (Docket Entry No. 17) be DENIED.


         Plaintiff filed an application for SSI on February 17, 2010. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (Docket Entry No. 12) at 138-39.[2] She alleged a disability onset date of February 8, 2010. AR 138-39.[3] Plaintiff alleged that she was unable to work because of head and neck cancer, dizziness, stomach problems, high blood pressure, eye problems, and a mental disorder. AR 162.[4]

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 138-39. Pursuant to her request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ Renee S. Andrews-Turner on June 25, 2012. AR 98. On September 5, 2012, the ALJ granted the claim. AR 140-42. However, on April 29, 2013, the Appeals Council found that the ALJ's decision was not supported by substantial evidence and remanded the case to the ALJ for further consideration. AR 151-54.

         Following remand, Plaintiff appeared with counsel for an additional hearing before the ALJ on December 16, 2013. AR 64. The ALJ held a supplemental hearing on September 12, 2014 following an additional examination of Plaintiff. AR 36, 97. On October 28, 2014, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's claim. AR 6-8. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (AR 1-3), thereby making the ALJ's 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).


         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on October 28, 2014. AR 6-8. Based upon the record, the ALJ made the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 17, 2010, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: status post stroke, hypertension, and organic mental disorder (416.920(c)).
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals 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 medium work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(c) except the claimant can lift and/or carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; frequently claim ramp/stairs balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; occasionally climb ladder/rope/scaffolds; should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, noise, and hazards; can understand, remember, and carry out simple and detailed instructions; and maintain concentration, pace and persistence for 2 hours at a time during an 8-hour workday.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant, born on December 3, 1964, was 45 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was protectively filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has a limited (10th grade) 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 can perform (20 CFR 416.969 and 416.969(a)).
10. The claimant has not been under a “disability, ” as defined in the Social Security Act since February 17, 2010, the date the application was protectively filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).

AR 12-27.


         The parties and the ALJ have thoroughly summarized and discussed the medical and testimonial evidence of the administrative record. Accordingly, the Court will discuss those matters only to ...

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