United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division
ROBERT G. REEVES, Plaintiff
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Honorable Aleta A. Trauger Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
FOR JUDGMENT ON THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD [ECF. NO.
ELIZABETH A. STAFFORD United States Magistrate Judge
Robert Reeves appeals the final decision of defendant
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner), which denied
his application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and
supplemental security income (SSI) under the Social Security
Act. He has filed a motion for judgment on the administrative
record, the Commissioner has responded, and the matter has
been referred to this Court for a report and recommendation
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). After review of
the record, the Court finds that the administrative law
judge's (ALJ) decision did not adequately account for
Reeves's moderate limitations in concentration,
persistence, and pace and thus RECOMMENDS
. Reeves's motion [ECF No.
16] be GRANTED; and,
. the matter be REMANDED
pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for
further consideration consistent with this report and
Reeves's Background and Disability Application
November 29, 1988, Reeves was 21 years old on his alleged
onset date of August 30, 2010. [Tr. 14, 26]. Reeves is a high
school graduate with past work experience as a packing
machine operator, soldering production line worker, and
kitchen helper/bus boy. [Tr. 26]. Reeves alleged disability
due to a back injury suffered on August 30, 2010, and
depression arising from the pain and limitations from that
injury. [ECF No. 16, PageID 632-33].
hearing on August 6, 2014, during which Reeves and a
vocational expert (VE) testified, the ALJ found that Reeves
was not disabled. [Tr. 14-27, 32-66]. The Appeals Council
denied review, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. [Tr. 1-4]. Reeves timely filed
for judicial review. [ECF No. 1].
The ALJ's Application of the Disability Framework
“disability” is 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 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
Commissioner determines whether an applicant is disabled by
analyzing five sequential steps. First, if the applicant is
“doing substantial gainful activity, ” he or she
will be found not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4).
Second, if the claimant has not had a severe impairment or a
combination of such impairments for a continuous period of at
least 12 months, no disability will be found. Id.
Third, if the claimant's severe impairments meet or equal
the criteria of an impairment set forth in the
Commissioner's Listing of Impairments, the claimant will
be found disabled. Id. If the fourth step is
reached, the Commissioner considers its assessment of the
claimant's residual functional capacity, and will find
the claimant not disabled if he or she can still do past
relevant work. Id. At the final step, the
Commissioner reviews the claimant's RFC, age, education
and work experiences, and determines whether the claimant
could adjust to other work. Id. The claimant bears
the burden of proof throughout the first four steps, but the
burden shifts to the Commissioner if the fifth step is
reached. Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994). To meet this
burden, the Commissioner must make a finding supported by
substantial evidence that the claimant has the vocational
qualifications to perform specific jobs. Varley v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 820 F.2d 777, 779
(6th Cir. 1987).
this framework, the ALJ concluded that Reeves was not
disabled. At the first step, she found that Reeves had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged
onset date. [Tr. 16]. At the second step, she found that
Reeves had the severe impairments of “lumbar spine
degenerative disc disease, adjustment disorder, and major
depressive disorder.” [Id.]. Next, the ALJ
concluded that none of his impairments, either alone or in
combination, met or medically equaled the severity of a
listed impairment. [Tr. 17-18].
the third and fourth steps, the ALJ found that Reeves had the
RFC to ...