United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville Division
AMENDED REPORT AND
Clifton L. Corker, United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the United States Magistrate Judge under the
standing orders of the Court and 28 U.S.C. § 636 for a
report and recommendation. Plaintiff's Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) application was denied
after a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) in March 2013. (Doc. 9, Transcript p. 9)
(reference to “Tr” and the page denote the
record). Plaintiff sought judicial review in Fishley v.
Soc. Sec. Admin., No. 2:14-CV- 254 in this Court. The
matter was remanded to the Commissioner for further
proceedings in 2015. (Tr. 945). The application was denied on
remand in June 2016 following another hearing. (Tr. 870).
This action is for judicial review of the final decision on
remand per 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Each party has filed a
dispositive motion [Docs. 15 & 19] with a supporting
memorandum [Docs. 16 & 20].
APPLICABLE LAW - STANDARD OF REVIEW
review of the Commissioner's findings is narrow. The
Court is confined to determining (1) whether substantial
evidence supported the factual findings of the ALJ and (2)
whether the Commissioner conformed with the relevant legal
standards. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); see Brainard v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 889 F.2d 679,
681 (6th Cir. 1989). “Substantial evidence” is
evidence that is more than a mere scintilla and is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support the challenged conclusion. Richardson
v. Perales, 402 U.S.
401 (1971). It must be enough to justify, if the trial were
to a jury, a refusal to direct a verdict when the conclusion
sought to be drawn is one of fact. LeMaster v. Sec'y
of Health & Human Servs., 802 F.2d 839, 841 (6th
Cir. 1986). A Court may not try the case de novo,
resolve conflicts in the evidence, or decide questions of
credibility. Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387
(6th Cir. 1984). Even if the Court were to resolve factual
issues differently, the Commissioner's decision must
stand if substantial evidence supports it. Listenbee v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Services, 846 F.2d 345,
349 (6th Cir. 1988). But, a decision supported by substantial
evidence “will not be upheld where the SSA fails to
follow its own regulations and where that error prejudices a
claimant on the merits or deprives the claimant of a
substantial right.” Bowen v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 478 F.3d 742, 746 (6th Cir. 2007). The Court may
consider any record evidence regardless of whether the ALJ
cited it. Heston v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 245
F.3d. 528, 535 (6th Cir. 2001).
claimant must be under a “disability” as defined
by the Act to be eligible for benefits.
“Disability” includes physical and mental
impairments that are “medically determinable” and
so severe as to prevent the claimant from (1) performing her
past job and (2) engaging in “substantial gainful
activity” available in the regional or national
economies. 42 U.S.C. § 423(a).
five-step sequential evaluation is used in disability
determinations. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. Review ends with a
dispositive finding at any step. See Colvin v.
Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007). The
complete review poses five questions:
1. Has the claimant engaged in substantial gainful activity?
2. Does the claimant suffer from one or more severe
3. Do the claimant's severe impairments, alone or in
combination, meet or equal the criteria of an impairment set
forth in the Commissioner's Listing of Impairments (the
“Listings”), 20 C.F.R. Subpart P, Appendix 1?
4. Considering the claimant's [Residual Functional
Capacity], can he or she perform his or her past relevant
5. Assuming the claimant can no longer perform his or her
past relevant work -- and also considering the claimant's
age, education, past work experience, and RFC -- do
significant numbers of other jobs exist in the national
economy which the claimant can perform?
20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4).
claimant has the burden to establish an entitlement to
benefits by proving the existence of a disability under 42
U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). See Boyes v. Sec'y of
Health & Human Servs., 46 F.3d 510, 512 (6th Cir.
1994). The Commissioner has the burden to establish the
claimant's ability to work at step five. Moon v.
Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1175, 1181 (6th Cir. 1990).
RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL OVERVIEW