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Smith v. Berryhill

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

March 5, 2018

SHIRLEY A. SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          CHRISTOPHER H. STEGER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This action was instituted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying Shirley Smith's (“Plaintiff”) claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), as provided by the Social Security Act.

         The parties have consented to entry of final judgment by the United States Magistrate Judge under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), with any appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [Doc. 14]. Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. 16] and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 20].

         For the reasons stated herein, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision. Accordingly, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion [Doc. 16] and GRANTS Defendant's motion [Doc. 20].

         II. Background

         A. Procedural History

         On November 28, 2012, Plaintiff protectively filed for DIB under Title II of the Social Security Act (“Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq., based on sleep apnea, back injury, high blood pressure, a fractured ankle, depression, anxiety, and head injury[1] [Tr. 149-151, 169].[2] Plaintiff's claims were denied initially and on reconsideration [Tr. 72, 86, 89-93, 95-97]. On November 10, 2014, Plaintiff appeared and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Ronald Feibus [Tr. 25-51]. On December 17, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was “not disabled, ” as defined in the applicable sections of the Act, because she was capable of performing her past relevant work [Tr. 13-18]. On April 8, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-3]. Thus, Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies, and the ALJ's decision stands as the Commissioner's final decision subject to judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         B. Relevant Facts

         Plaintiff's Age, Education, and Past Work Experience

         Plaintiff is currently a sixty-four-year-old individual who performed past relevant work as a legal secretary, construction laborer, and outside sales representative [Tr. 28-29, 32, 37-38, 194-203]. At the time of her alleged onset date of March 23, 2012, Plaintiff was fifty-eight years old [Tr. 149].

         Plaintiff's Testimony and Medical History

         The parties and the ALJ have summarized and discussed the medical and testimonial evidence of the administrative record. Accordingly, the Court will discuss those matters as relevant to the analysis of the parties' arguments.

         The ALJ's Findings

         After considering the entire record, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act ...

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