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Burton v. Berryhill

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

January 9, 2018

SHEILA R. BURTON, 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. 22]. Now before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 17 & 18] and the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 23 & 24]. Sheila R. Burton (“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.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 20, 2013, the Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq., claiming a period of disability that began on June 27, 2012. [Tr. 1515, 177]. After her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, the Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 109]. A hearing was held on August 26, 2014. [Tr. 40-62]. On August 21, 2015, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 24-35]. 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 May 16, 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, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 27, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et. seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, residuals from fractured pelvis, gout in hands and feet, diabetes, and obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(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 and 404.1526).
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) except lifting/carrying (included upward pulling) 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently. Standing and/or walking (with normal breaks) at least two hours in an eight-hour day, each. Unrestricted sitting. Occasional postural activities, but no climbing ladders/ropes/scaffolds. No manipulative, visual, communicative, or environmental limitations.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work. (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on February 21, 1967 and was 45 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
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 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from June 27, 2012, through the date of ...

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