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Sellars v. Berryhill

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

January 22, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1]Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


          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 Rules of this Court for a report and recommendation regarding disposition by the District Court of the the Plaintiff's Motion for Judgement on the Pleadings and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 14 & 15] and the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 16 & 17]. Anna Leah Sellers (“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 RECOMMEND that the Plaintiff's motion be DENIED, and the Commissioner's motion GRANTED.


         On April 18, 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 April 15, 2013. [Tr. 183]. After her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, the Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 146]. A hearing was held on May 20, 2015. [Tr. 20-62]. On June 22, 2015, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 14-23]. The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-3], 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 June 17, 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.


         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 her alleged onset date of April 15, 2013. The claimant engaged in substantial activity (SGA) during the following periods: 2007 and 2011-2012. The claimant had SGA level earnings in 2007 for Affordable Discount Reservations, and in 2011-2012 from Vacation Development Corp. In 2007, the claimant was an office manager, who supervised a maintenance man and a housekeeper. In 2011-2012 the claimant worked as a housekeeper in Gatlinburg for Vacation Development Corp delivering breakfast and cleaning eleven rooms. She also cleaned the offices, vending area, and laundry room. Her certified earnings report shows income of $16, 330 in 2011 and $17, 522 in 2012. The claimant also has posted earnings of $628 in 2013.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: obesity, degenerative disc disease (DDD) of the back, affective disorder, anxiety disorder, personality disorder, and gout (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) except the claimant could occasionally climb ramps or stairs and occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. She could occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. The claimant can perform jobs that do not require concentrated exposure to extreme cold, wetness, moving and hazardous machinery, or work around unprotected heights. The claimant could perform jobs requiring simple and detailed routine and repetitive tasks in work with infrequent routine changes in job duties. The claimant could sustain occasional brief and superficial interaction with coworkers and the public.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work. (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on August 9, 1964 and was 48 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has at least 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 ...

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