United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
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 consent of the parties [Doc. 14]. Now before the
Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Judgement on the
Pleadings and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 15 & 16] and
the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Memorandum in Support [Docs. 17 & 18]. Roy Douglas Laster
(“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 DENY Plaintiff's motion and
GRANT the Commissioner's motion.
December 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for
disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq.,
claiming a period of disability that began November 1, 2012,
the amended onset date. [Tr. 112-13, 37]. After his
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration,
Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 77]. A
hearing was held on September 28, 2015. [Tr. 34-46]. On
October 8, 2015, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not
disabled. [Tr. 22-29]. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 2-4], making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on November 28, 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.
made the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through June 30, 2016.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since November 1, 2012, the amended alleged onset
date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following medically determinable
impairments: diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoarthritis,
and obesity (20 CFR 404.1521 et seq.).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that has significantly limited (or is expected to
significantly limit) the ability to perform basic
work-related activities for 12 consecutive months; therefore,
the claimant does not have a severe impairment or combination
of impairments. (20 CFR 404.1521 et seq.).
5. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from November 1, 2012, through
the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing the Commissioner's determination of whether an
individual is disabled pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
the Court is limited to determining whether the ALJ's
decision was reached through application of the correct legal
standards and in accordance with the procedure mandated by
the regulations and rulings promulgated by the Commissioner,
and whether the ALJ's findings are supported by
substantial evidence. Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted); Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378
F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004).
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.” Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)
(citations omitted). It is immaterial whether the record may
also possess substantial evidence to support a different
conclusion from that reached by the ALJ, or whether the
reviewing judge may have decided the case differently.
Crisp v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 790
F.2d 450, 453 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986). The substantial evidence
standard is intended to create a “‘zone of
choice' within which the Commissioner can act, without
the fear of court interference.” Buxton v.
Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 773 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. ...