United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE
THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Danny Whited filed this action to obtain judicial review of
Defendant Commissioner's final decision denying his
application for disability insurance benefits under Title II
of the Social Security Act (“Act”).
Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration by the Social Security Administration.
Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an administrative
law judge (“ALJ”), which was held on March 27,
2009. On July 31, 2009, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision. The Appeals Council subsequently denied his request
for review. Plaintiff appealed the decision to this Court in
Whited v. Commissioner, 1:11-cv-1021-JDT (W.D. Tenn.
February 22, 2012). The Court reversed the decision of the
Commissioner and remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) for reconsideration of the opinion of
the treating physician, Howard W. Thomas, M.D., under the
factors set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(2).
ALJ conducted the second hearing on April 8, 2013, and issued
an unfavorable opinion on June 20, 2013. The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. Thus, the decision
of the ALJ became the Commissioner's final decision, and
Plaintiff filed an appeal in this Court. For the reasons set
forth below, the decision of the Commissioner is
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a claimant may obtain judicial
review of any final decision made by the Commissioner after a
hearing to which he was a party. “The court shall have
the power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the
record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or
without remanding the cause for a rehearing.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). The Court's review is limited to
determining whether there is substantial evidence to support
the Commissioner's decision, id. and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. See Key v.
Callahan, 109 F.3d 270, 273 (6th Cir. 1997). See
also Landsaw v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs,
803 F.2d 211, 213 (6th Cir. 1986).
evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Buxton v. Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 772 (6th Cir. 2001)
(quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389
(1971)). It is “more than a mere scintilla of evidence,
but less than a preponderance.” Bell v. Comm'r
of Soc. Sec., 105 F.3d 244, 245 (6th Cir. 1996) (citing
Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229
(1938)). The Commissioner, not the Court, is charged with the
duty to weigh the evidence, to make credibility
determinations and resolve material conflicts in the
testimony, and to decide the case accordingly. Walters v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir.
1997); Crum v. Sullivan, 921 F.2d 642, 644 (6th Cir.
1990); Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th
Cir. 1984). When substantial evidence supports the
Commissioner's determination, it is conclusive, even if
substantial evidence also supports the opposite conclusion.
See Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d 387,
390 (6th Cir. 2004).
was born on April 16, 1953. He was fifty-two years old on his
date last insured. He has a G.E.D. Plaintiff alleges
disability beginning December 1, 2005, due to diabetes
mellitus, lumbar degenerative disc/joint disease, gout,
hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
congestive heart failure, visual problems, and obesity. He
last worked at a mechanic shop.
made the following findings: (1) Plaintiff last met the
insured status requirements on December 31, 2005; (2)
Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since the alleged onset date; (3) since the alleged onset
date, Plaintiff has had the following severe impairments:
lumbar degenerative disc disease, diabetes mellitus, and
obesity; (4) through the date last insured, Plaintiff did not
have impairments, either alone or in combination, that met or
equaled the requirements of any listed impairment contained
in 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1 of the listing of
impairments; (5) through the date last insured, Plaintiff had
the residual functional capacity to perform a limited range
of light work; (6) through the date last insured, Plaintiff
was unable to perform any past relevant work; (7) on the date
last insured, Plaintiff was an individual closely approaching
advance age with a high school education; (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 Plaintiff was not disabled
whether or not he had transferable skills; (9) through the
date last insured, considering Plaintiff's age,
education, work experience, and residual functional capacity,
there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the
national economy that Plaintiff could perform; (10) Plaintiff
was not under a disability within the meaning of the Act at
any time from the alleged onset date through the date last
insured. R. 308 - 15.
Social Security Act defines disability as the inability to
engage in substantial gainful activity. 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1). The claimant bears the ultimate burden of
establishing an entitlement to benefits. See Born v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs, 923 F.2d 1168,
1173 (6th Cir. 1990). The initial burden of going forward is
on the claimant to show that he or she is disabled from
engaging in his or her former employment; the burden of going
forward then shifts to the Commissioner to demonstrate the
existence of available employment compatible with the
claimant's disability and background. Id.
Commissioner conducts the following, five-step analysis to
determine if an individual is disabled within the meaning of
1. An individual who is engaging in substantial gainful
activity will not be found to be disabled regardless of
2. An individual who does not have a severe impairment will
not be found to be disabled.
3. A finding of disability will be made without consideration
of vocational factors, if an individual is not working and is
suffering from a severe impairment which meets the duration
requirement and which meets or equals a listed impairment in
Appendix 1 to Subpart P of the regulations.
4. An individual who can perform work that he has done in the
past will not be found to be disabled.
5. If an individual cannot perform his or her past work,
other factors including age, education, past work experience
and residual functional capacity must be considered to