United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
MARTHA E. MCCARTER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
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. 20]. 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]. Martha E. McCarter (“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 the Plaintiff's motion, and
DENY the Commissioner's motion.
November 8, 2010, 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 October 8,
2008. [Tr. 200-10]. After her application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration, the Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 119]. A hearing was held on
January 19, 2012. [Tr. 28-41]. On July 27, 2012, the ALJ
found that the Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 81-94]. The
Appeals Council granted the Plaintiff's request for
review, finding that vocational expert testimony was
necessary. [Tr. 99-101]. The case was remanded to the ALJ for
“a new decision” with specific instructions to
give further consideration of the Plaintiff's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) and obtain
supplemental evidence from a vocational expert regarding the
effect on the Plaintiff's RFC on the occupational base.
remand, a second hearing was conducted. [Tr. 43-73].
Thereafter, the ALJ issued a new decision on December 16,
2014, again finding that the Plaintiff was not under a
disability. [Tr. 15-22]. The Appeals Council denied the
Plaintiff's request for review. [Tr. 1-6]. Therefore, the
ALJ's December 16, 2014 decision became the final
decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted her administrative remedies, the Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on June 24, 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 meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through June 30, 2010.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since October 8, 2008, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: major
depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (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 a full range of work at all
exertional levels but with the following nonexertional
limitations: for the following limitations: no exertional
limitations; no dealing with the general public; little or
occasional interaction with supervisors or coworkers; and
only simple, routine work.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was 47 years old, which is defined as an
individual closely approaching advance age, 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. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from October 8, 2008, through the
date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
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.