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McFaddin v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

March 21, 2018

LUKE A. MCFADDIN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1]Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

         This 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. 10]. Now before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 16 & 17] and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 18 & 19]. Luke A. McFaddin (“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.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 2, 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 on September 30, 2012. [Tr. 197, 218]. After his application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 132]. A hearing was held on August 26, 2015. [Tr. 45-96]. On December 30, 2015, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 23-39]. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-4], making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Having exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a Complaint with this Court on December 9, 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.

         II. ALJ FINDINGS

         The ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 30, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments (20 CFR 404.1520(c): degenerative disc disease.
4. The claimant does 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, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a), subject to the following additional limitations: such work (a) must not require more than occasional crawling, crouching, kneeling, stooping, balancing, or climbing of ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps, or stairs; (b) must not require more than frequent pushing or pulling with either upper or lower extremity; (c) must not require more than frequent reaching in any direction with either upper extremity; (d) must not require use of either upper extremity for more than frequent gross manipulation (i.e., handling) or fine manipulation (i.e., fingering); (e) must be capable of being performed while using a hand-held assistive device for rough or uneven terrain, prolonged ambulation, or ascending/descending inclines/declines (noting that the contralateral upper extremity remains capable of being used to lift and/or carry up to the exertional limits of sedentary work); and (f) must not require more than occasional exposure to extreme cold or humidity, or more than frequent exposure to excessive vibration or to workplace hazards such as dangerous moving machinery with moving mechanical parts or unprotected heights.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work. (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on September 19, 1970 and was 42 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to a younger individual age 45-49 (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from September 30, 2013, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g)).

[Tr. 26-39].

         III. ...


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