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Lindsey v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

March 12, 2018

RONALD LINDSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          William L. Campbell Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MONA K. MAJZOUB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Ronald Lindsey seeks judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's determination that he is not entitled to benefits under the Social Security Act. (Docket no. 1.) Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (docket no. 16). Defendant filed a response opposing Plaintiff's motion (docket no. 19). This matter has been referred to the Magistrate Judge for a Report and Recommendation on disposition of Plaintiff's Complaint for judicial review of the decision of the Social Security Administration. (Docket no. 11.) Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 24 entered on January 23, 2018, the undersigned is authorized to hold court and perform other judicial duties in the Middle District of Tennessee under 28 U.S.C. § 636, subsections (a), (b), and (c).

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that the Court DENY Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (docket no. 16); AFFIRM the Commissioner's final decision; and DISMISS Plaintiff's complaint.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 5, 2013, Plaintiff applied for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) as well as Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), alleging that he has been disabled since January 1, 2009. (TR 11.) The Social Security Administration initially denied Plaintiff's claims on November 14, 2013. (Id.) On August 25, 2015, Plaintiff appeared with a representative and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Todd Spangler. (TR 27-53.) During the hearing, Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2011. (TR 11.) On October 14, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's claims. (TR 11-20.) Plaintiff requested a review of the ALJ's decision with the Appeals Council, which was denied on October 18, 2016. (TR 1-3.) On December 20, 2016, Plaintiff commenced this action for judicial review, and subsequently filed a motion for judgment on the administrative record, which is currently before the Court. (Docket no. 16.)

         III. HEARING TESTIMONY AND MEDICAL EVIDENCE

         Plaintiff sets forth a brief procedural history of this matter as well as a short summary of his medical issues. (Docket no. 17, pp. 1-10.) In addition, the ALJ summarized Plaintiff's medical record (TR 14-18), and Defendant deferred to the ALJ's summary (docket no. 19, p. 3). Having conducted an independent review of Plaintiff's medical record and the hearing transcript, the undersigned finds that there are no material inconsistencies among these recitations of the record. Therefore, in lieu of re-summarizing this information, the undersigned will incorporate the above-cited factual recitations by reference and will also refer to the record as necessary to address the parties' arguments throughout this Report and Recommendation.

         IV. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE'S DETERMINATION

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2014 and had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 31, 2011, the alleged onset date. (TR 13.) In addition, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: “[d]egenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, status-post Harrington rod for scoliosis, and ischemic heart disease.” (TR 14.) Nevertheless, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR 15.) In addition, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a), subject to the following limitations:

▪ Plaintiff can lift ten pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently;
▪ Plaintiff can stand, walk and sit six hours in an eight-hour day;
▪ Plaintiff can occasionally climb ramps and stairs but never climb ladders, ...

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