Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Tucker v. Berryhill

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

December 18, 2017

ERNIE D. TUCKER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL[1], Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph M. Hood, Senior U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Ernie D. Tucker brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his claims for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income (SSI). The Court, having reviewed the record, will AFFIRM the Commissioner's decision as it is supported by substantial evidence.

         I.

         Judicial review of the Commissioner's decision is limited to determining whether it is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards. Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). “Substantial evidence” is defined as “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.” Id. Courts are not to conduct a de novo review, resolve conflicts in the evidence, or make credibility determinations. Id. Rather, we are to affirm the Commissioner's decision, provided it is supported by substantial evidence, even if we might have decided the case differently. See Her v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d 388, 389-90 (6th Cir. 1999).

         The ALJ, in determining disability, conducts a five-step analysis. See Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003). Step One considers whether the claimant is still performing substantial gainful activity; Step Two, whether any of the claimant's impairments are “severe”; Step Three, whether the impairments meet or equal a listing in the Listing of Impairments; Step Four, whether the claimant can still perform his past relevant work; and Step Five, whether significant numbers of other jobs exist in the national economy which the claimant can perform. As to the last step, the burden of proof shifts from the claimant to the Commissioner. Id.; see also Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).

         II.

         On July 5, 2012, Plaintiff filed his applications for disability insurance benefits and SSI alleging disability as of January 1, 2009 which he later amended to February 1, 2011 (Tr. 14, 37, 179). He alleged disability due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, high cholesterol, nerve damage, and loss of feeling in the right ankle (Tr. 265). Plaintiff's claims were denied initially and on reconsideration and Plaintiff then requested a hearing on the matter (Tr. 156). Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Renee S. Andrews-Turner conducted a hearing, but thereafter denied Plaintiff's claims (Tr. 14-27). On April 16, 2016, the Appeals Council declined Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 4-10), making the ALJ's October 31, 2014, decision the final agency decision for purposes of judicial review. This appeal followed and the case is ripe for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)[2].

         III.

         After careful consideration of the entire record, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had severe impairments that included diabetes mellitus with neuropathy; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; hyperlipidemia; anxiety disorder; a depressive disorder; and a personality disorder (Tr. 17). However, the ALJ found that he did not have an impairment or combination of impairments listed in or medically equal to one contained in 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P, appendix 1 (Tr. 17).

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand and walk three hours in an eight-hour workday; has no sitting restrictions; occasionally push and pull with the bilateral lower extremities. He should avoid concentrated exposure to fumes, odors, dust, gases, and poor ventilation; could understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions; could occasionally interact with coworkers and supervisors; could have no interaction with the general public; and could adapt to infrequent change in the workplace(Tr 19).

         The ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments would not preclude him from performing work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy, including work as an inspector, table worker, and assembler (Tr. 26). Consequently, ALJ Turner-Andrews concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 27).

         IV.

         Although Plaintiff generally argues that the ALJ's decision was not supported by substantial evidence, he raises several specific issues: whether the ALJ properly evaluated the severity of Plaintiff's impairments, whether the ALJ properly considered Plaintiff's mental impairments, and whether substantial evidence supported the finding that Plaintiff could perform “other” work. Plaintiff alleges that the ALJ erred in evaluating the severity of his impairments because the ALJ did not find that hand neuropathy was a separate impairment, even while reaching the overall finding that Plaintiff had diabetic neuropathy. See Pl.'s Br. at 13. However, the ALJ could find that despite a finding that Plaintiff had diabetic neuropathy, the medical evidence did not show that Plaintiff had a distinct additional impairment of hand neuropathy (Tr. 17).

         The ALJ found that Plaintiff had severe impairments, including diabetes with neuropathy, COPD, hyperlipidemia (i.e. high cholesterol), depression, and personality disorder (Tr. 17). However, the ALJ declined to find that Plaintiff had the specific additional impairment of neuropathy in the hands, finding that the record did not support that this was a medically determinable impairment (Tr. 17).

         A severe impairment is an impairment that more than minimally impacts an individual's ability to work. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1521 (severe impairments); SSR 96-3p. Plaintiff has the burden of showing that the impairment is severe and that it met the 12 month durational requirements of the Act. See Harley v. Comm'r of SocialSec., 485 F. App'x 802, 803 (6th Cir. 2012). He ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.