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Simmons v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Winchester

March 21, 2018

PATRICIA ANN SIMMONS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THOMAS PHILLIPS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff seeks judicial review pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the denial by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) of her application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. Plaintiff asserts the administrative law judge (ALJ) failed to give proper weight to Plaintiff's medical providers and failed to properly evaluate her subjective complaints and credibility. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 14] shall be DENIED; the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 17] shall be GRANTED; and the decision of the Commissioner shall be AFFIRMED. Judgment in favor of the Commissioner shall be entered.

         II. Background

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434 (Tr. 177). Plaintiff's claim was denied and she requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (Tr. 136). On November 4, 2015, following a hearing, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 36). On January 18, 2017, SSA's Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-14). Thus, Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies, and the ALJ's decision stands as the final decision of the Commissioner subject to judicial review.

         B. The ALJ's Findings

         After considering the entire record, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 14, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia; osteoarthritis; carpal tunnel syndrome; anxiety; depression; mild degenerative disc disease; right shoulder bursitis; obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
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, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform unskilled light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). Specifically, the claimant is able to lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. The claimant can sit, stand, and walk for 6 hours each per 8-hour workday, with a brief postural adjustment every hour for 5 minutes at [her] workstation without getting off task. The claimant is able to push and pull as much as she can lift and carry. The claimant can occasionally climb ramps and stairs but can never climb ladders and scaffolds. The claimant can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant is able to maintain concentration, persistence, and pace for low-level detailed tasks over a normal workday with appropriate breaks. The claimant can have frequent interaction with supervisors, co-workers, and the public.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on February 7, 1962 and was 50 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least 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 August 14, 2012, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g)).

(Tr. 20, 21, 23-24, 34-36).

         C. ...


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