Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Roller v. Social Security Administration

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

February 28, 2018

JODY SCOTT ROLLER, Plaintiff,
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD

          PATRICIA T. MORRIS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         In light of the entire record in this case, I suggest that substantial evidence does not support the Commissioner's determination that Plaintiff is not disabled. Accordingly, IT IS RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 19), be GRANTED, and that this case be REMANDED under Sentence Four of 42 U.S.C. 405(g).

         II. REPORT

         A. Introduction and Procedural History

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, and by Administrative Order Number 24, entered on January 23, 2018, this case was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for the purpose of reviewing a final decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff Jody Scott Roller's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. The matter is currently before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 19).

         On February 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB alleging a disability onset date of June 30, 2012. (Tr. 180-83). The Commissioner denied his claim. (Tr. 67-95). Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), which occurred on March 10, 2015, before ALJ Elizabeth P. Neuhoff. (Tr. 30-66). The ALJ issued a decision on May 15, 2015, finding Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 12-28). On November 4, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review, (Tr. 1-6), and Plaintiff filed for judicial review of that final decision on January 5, 2017. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff filed the instant Motion on May 31, 2017, (Doc. 19), and the Commissioner filed a Response on June 26, 2017, (Doc. 20), to which Plaintiff replied, (Doc. 21).

         B. Standard of Review

         The district court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final administrative decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The district court's review is restricted solely to determining whether the “Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal standard or has made findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the record.” Sullivan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 595 F App'x. 502, 506 (6th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). Substantial 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.” Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         The Court must examine the administrative record as a whole, and may consider any evidence in the record, regardless of whether it has been cited by the ALJ. See Walker v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 884 F.2d 241, 245 (6th Cir. 1989). The Court will not “try the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor decide questions of credibility.” Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). If the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, “it must be affirmed even if the reviewing court would decide the matter differently and even if substantial evidence also supports the opposite conclusion.” Id. at 286 (internal citations omitted).

         C. Framework for Disability Determinations

         Under the Act, “DIB and SSI are available only for those who have a ‘disability.'” Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007). “Disability” means the inability

to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than [twelve] months.

42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A) (DIB); 20 C.F.R. § 416.905(a) (SSI). The Commissioner's regulations provide that disability is to be determined through the application of a five-step sequential analysis:

(i) At the first step, we consider your work activity, if any. If you are doing substantial gainful activity, we will find that you are not disabled.
(ii) At the second step, we consider the medical severity of your impairment(s). If you do not have a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment that meets the duration requirement . . . or a combination of impairments that is severe and meets the duration requirement, we will find that you are not disabled.
(iii) At the third step, we also consider the medical severity of your impairment(s). If you have an impairment(s) that meets or equals one of our listings in appendix 1 of this subpart and meets the duration requirement, we will find that you are disabled.
(iv) At the fourth step, we consider our assessment of your residual functional capacity and your past relevant work. If you can still do your past relevant work, we will find that you are not disabled.
(v) At the fifth and last step, we consider our assessment of your residual functional capacity and your age, education, and work experience to see if you can make an adjustment to other work. If you can make an adjustment to other work, we will find that you are not disabled. If you cannot make an adjustment to other work, we will find that you are disabled.

20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920; see also Heston v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 245 F.3d 528, 534 (6th Cir. 2001). “Through step four, the claimant bears the burden of proving the existence and severity of limitations caused by [his or] her impairments and the fact that she is precluded from performing [his or] her past relevant work.” Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003). The burden transfers to the Commissioner if the analysis reaches the fifth step without a finding that the claimant is not disabled. Combs v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 459 F.3d 640, 643 (6th Cir. 2006). At the fifth step, the Commissioner is required to show that “other jobs in significant numbers exist in the national economy that [the claimant] could perform given [his or] her RFC [residual functional capacity] and considering relevant vocational factors.” Rogers, 486 F.3d at 241 (citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(a)(4)(v), (g)).

         Under the authority of the Social Security Act, the SSA has promulgated regulations that provide for the payment of disabled child's insurance benefits if the claimant is at least eighteen years old and has a disability that began before age twenty-two (20 C.F.R. 404.350(a) (5) (2013). A claimant must establish a medically determinable physical or mental impairment (expected to last at least twelve months or result in death) that rendered her unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). The regulations provide a five-step sequential evaluation for evaluating disability claims. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520.

         D. ALJ Findings

         Following the five-step sequential analysis, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 12-28). At Step One, the ALJ found that Plaintiff would meet the insured status requirements of the SSA through December 31, 2017, and that he had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date of June 30, 2012. (Tr. 17). At Step Two, the ALJ concluded that the following impairments qualified as severe: fibromyalgia, coronary artery disease, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. (Tr. 17-18). The ALJ also decided, however, that none of these met or medically equaled a listed impairment at Step Three. (Tr. 18-19). Thereafter, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work, except:

with lifting/carrying 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; standing/walking/sitting 6 hours total each; no work around unprotected heights; able to understand, remember and perform simple tasks and instructions; able to interact appropriately with co-workers and supervisors and infrequently with the general public; and able to adapt to change in the work setting.

(Tr. 19). At Step Four, the ALJ found Plaintiff incapable of performing his past relevant work. (Tr. 23). But proceeding to Step Five, the ALJ determined that there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform. (Tr. 23-24).

         E. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.