United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
Clifford Shirley, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge.
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 Judgment on the
Pleadings and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 13 & 14] and
the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Memorandum in Support [Docs. 15 & 16]. Caleb Cover
(“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 DENY the Plaintiff's motion, and
GRANT the Commissioner's motion.
6, 2015, the Plaintiff filed an application for disability
insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-403, claiming a
period of disability that began on November 8, 2008. [Tr. 18,
142]. After his application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, the Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
ALJ. [Tr. 96]. A hearing was held on May 16, 2016. [Tr.
28-56]. On July 21, 2016, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff
was not disabled. [Tr. 18-24]. The Appeals Council denied the
Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-6], making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted his administrative remedies, the Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on November 4, 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.
made the following findings:
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on December 31, 2013.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
activity during the period from his alleged onset date of
November 8, 2008 through his date last insured of December
31, 2013 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.)
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the
following combination of severe impairments: affective
disorder, anxiety disorder, substance addiction disorder, and
organic mental disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled 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, through the date last insured, the
claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform
medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) expect he can do
work that is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive
tasks; performed in a work environment free of fast paced
work; involving only simple work-related decisions; with few,
if any, work changes; and no interaction with the public, and
occasional contact with coworkers and supervisors.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was capable of
performing past relevant work as a janitor. This work did not
require the performance of work-related activities precluded
by the claimant's residual functional capacity. (20 CFR
7. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the
Social Security Act, at any time from November 8, 2008, the
alleged onset date, through December 31, 2013, the date last
insured. (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing the Commissioner's determination of whether an
individual is disabled pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
the Court is limited to determining whether the ALJ's
decision was reached through application of the correct legal
standards and in accordance with the procedure mandated by
the regulations and rulings promulgated by the Commissioner,
and whether the ALJ's findings are supported by
substantial evidence. Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted); Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378
F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004).
evidence is “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.” Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)
(citations omitted). It is immaterial whether the record may
also possess substantial evidence to support a different
conclusion from that reached by the ALJ, or whether the
reviewing judge may have decided the case differently.
Crisp v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 790
F.2d 450, 453 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986). The substantial evidence
standard is intended to create a “‘zone of
choice' within which the Commissioner can act, without
the fear of court interference.” Buxton v.
Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 773 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986)).
Therefore, the Court will not “try the case de
novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor decide
questions of credibility.” Garner v. Heckler,
745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984) (citation omitted).
review, the plaintiff “bears the burden of proving his
entitlement to benefits.” Boyes v. Sec'y. of
Health & Human Servs., 46 F.3d 510, 512 (6th Cir.
1994) (citation omitted).