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Daniels v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

March 5, 2018

LEEROY DANIELS, 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) and 1383(c)(3) seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying Leeroy Daniels's (“Plaintiff”) claim for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), 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. 16]. Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record [Doc. 22] and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 24].

         For the reasons stated herein, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision. Accordingly, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion [Doc. 22] and GRANTS Defendant's motion [Doc. 24].

         II. Background

         A. Procedural History

         In December 2012, Plaintiff protectively filed for SSI under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq., based on right eye blindness, a learning disorder, and illiteracy[1] [Tr. 194, 224].[2] Plaintiff's claims were denied initially and on reconsideration [Tr. 70, 86]. On July 20, 2015, Plaintiff testified via videoconference at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Thomas Sanzi [Tr. 40-56]. On July 27, 2015, the ALJ issued a partially favorable decision finding that Plaintiff was disabled as of January 16, 2015, but not prior to that date [Tr. 18-33]. On August 8, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-3]. Thus, Plaintiff has exhausted his 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 forty-one years old. He completed tenth grade and last worked as a construction laborer in October 2010 [Tr. 224-225, 232]. At the time of his alleged onset date of October 5, 2011, Plaintiff was thirty-five years old [Tr. 194]. On the application date, Plaintiff was thirty-six years old [Id.].

         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 has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
2. Since the alleged onset date of disability, October 5, 2011, the claimant has had the following severe impairments: intellectual disability; learning disability. Beginning on the established onset date of disability, January 16, 2015, the claimant has had the following severe impairments: intellectual disability; learning disability; degenerative disc disease (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. Prior to January 16, 2015, the date the claimant became disabled, the claimant did 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, ...

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