United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
Christopher H. Steger, Judge
seeks judicial review pursuant to Section 205(g) of the
Social Security Act (“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 Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. The parties have
consented to entry of final judgment by the United States
Magistrate Judge under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), with any appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth
Circuit [Doc. 12]. For the reasons stated herein,
Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc.
14] shall be DENIED, the Commissioner's
Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 20] shall be
GRANTED, and the decision of the
Commissioner shall be AFFIRMED. Judgment in
favor of the DEFENDANT shall be entered.
applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II of
the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. [Tr. 165-68].
Section 205(g) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), provides
for judicial review of a “final decision” of the
Commissioner of the SSA (“Commissioner”).
Plaintiff's claim was denied and she requested a hearing
before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). [Tr.
87-89]. On May 1, 2015, following a hearing, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 8-28]. On March 18,
2016, SSA's Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review. [Tr. 1-7]. Thus, Plaintiff has exhausted
her administrative remedies, and the ALJ's decision
stands as the final decision of the Commissioner subject to
judicial review. Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking review
in this Court on May 20, 2016, which the Commissioner
answered. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a motion for judgment
on the pleadings, and the Commissioner filed a motion for
summary judgment. Both motions are ripe for review.
The ALJ's Findings
considering the entire record, the ALJ made the following
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Act through September 30, 2015.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 1, 2011, the alleged onset date (20
C.F.R. § 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease and obesity (20 C.F.R. §
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 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525
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 C.F.R. §
404.1567(a) except the claimant is limited to posturals
occasionally. The claimant should avoid ladders, ropes,
scaffolds, heights, and dangerous machinery. The claimant
requires a 30 minute stand/stretch option. Also, the claimant
could understand, remember and carry out simple and detailed
instructions. She could make work-related judgments typically
required for semi-skilled work. She could respond
appropriately to supervision, coworkers and work situations.
The claimant could have contact with the general public on a
frequent basis and with supervisors and coworkers on a
frequent basis. Further, the claimant could deal with changes
in a routine work setting on a frequent basis.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 C.F.R. § 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on April 7, 1973, and was 37 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on
the alleged disability onset date (20 C.F.R. §
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 C.F.R. § 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 C.F.R. 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 C.F.R. § 404.1569 and
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Act, from January 1, 2011, through the date of this
decision. (20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g)).
Plaintiff's Age, Education, and Past Work
time of the hearing before the ALJ on March 24, 2015,
Plaintiff was 41 years old. She was 37 years old at the time
of her alleged onset of disability on January 1,
2011. She completed at least two years of
college and has past relevant work as an assistant manager
for a financial institution, a bank teller, an appliance
salesperson, and in retail sales. [Tr. 32-33, 48-49, 52, 186,
Plaintiff's Testimony and Medical History
parties and the ALJ have summarized and discussed the medical
and testimonial evidence of the administrative record.
Accordingly, the Court will discuss those matters as relevant
to the analysis of the parties' arguments.