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Graybeal v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

January 3, 2018

LISA GAIL GRAYBEAL, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          C. Clifford Shirley, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge.

         This case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the consent of the parties [Doc. 12]. Now before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 10 & 11] and the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 13 & 14]. Lisa Gail Graybeal (“the Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”), the final decision of Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (“the Commissioner”). For the reasons that follow, the Court will GRANT IN PART the Plaintiff's motion, and DENY the Commissioner's motion.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On February 8, 2013, the Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits pursuant to Title II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-403, 1381-1385, claiming a period of disability that began on May 1, 2011. [Tr. 194-202]. After her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, the Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 149]. A hearing was held on June 19, 2015. [Tr. 39-67]. On September 4, 2015, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 20-38]. The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-6], making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Having exhausted her administrative remedies, the Plaintiff filed a Complaint with this Court on September 15, 2016, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision under Section 405(g) of the Social Security Act. [Doc. 1]. The parties have filed competing dispositive motions, and this matter is now ripe for adjudication.

         II. ALJ FINDGINS

         The ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2016.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 1, 2011, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia (although not diagnosed by a specialist); hypertension[;] degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; obesity; and depression (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(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, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. 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 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). She can lift/carry 10 pounds frequently, 20 pounds occasionally; sit/stand/walk 6 hours out of an 8-hour day; and would need a sit/stand option for 30-45 minutes. She could occasionally climb ramps, stairs, balance, and stoop, kneel, and crouch; and never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, or crawl. She would need to avoid concentrated exposure to hazards. She would need to have only simple, routine, tasks, in that she could apply common sense understanding to carry out oral, written and diagrammatic instructions. She would need low stress jobs, with few changes in the work setting and no executive level function.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work. (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on July 30, 1971 and was 39 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. 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).
10. 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 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. Thus, the undersigned finds that the claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from May 1, 2011, through the date of this decision ...

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