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Cato v. Berryhill

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

March 29, 2018

BARBARA ANN CATO, Plaintiff
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant

          Crenshaw Chief Judge

          ORDER

          Lanny King, Magistrate Judge

         REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION To The Honorable Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr., Chief Judge

         Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the final decision of the Commissioner denying her claim for Social Security disability benefits. (Docket # 1). The Commissioner filed an electronic copy of the administrative record. (Docket # 11). Plaintiff filed her First Motion for Judgment on the Record, along with a supporting memorandum of law. (Dockets # 15 and 16). The Commissioner responded in opposition to Plaintiff's motion. (Docket # 17). The matter is ripe for determination.

         On March 1, 2018, the Court referred the matter to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 631 and 636 and Administrative Order No. 24. Section 631 authorizes designation of magistrate judges to serve in districts adjoining the district for which they were appointed. Administrative Order No. 24 was entered on June 12, 2017, and signed by the Chief Judges for the Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Kentucky. Section 636 authorizes magistrate judges to submit reports and recommendations to district judges on any case-dispositive matter.

         The Magistrate Judge finds the administrative law judge's (ALJ's) decision was supported by substantial evidence and was in accord with applicable legal standards. The RECOMMENDATION, therefore, will be that the Court DENY Plaintiff's First Motion for Judgment on the Record (Docket # 15); AFFIRM the Commissioner's final decision; and DISMISS Plaintiff's complaint.

         The ALJ's decision

         In January 2016, the ALJ issued the Commissioner's final decision denying Plaintiff's claim for supplemental security income (SSI) benefits pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act, pursuant to the familiar five-step sequential evaluation process.

         1. The ALJ found that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 2014, when she filed her application for benefits. (ALJ's decision, Administrative Record (AR), p. 12).

         2. The ALJ found that Plaintiff suffers from the following “severe, ” or vocationally significant, impairments: osteoarthritis, asthma, and hypertension. (AR, p. 13).

         3. The ALJ found that none of these impairments satisfies the medical criteria of any impairment listed in Appendix 1 of the regulations. (AR, p. 14).

         As required in all cases that advance beyond Step 3, the ALJ determined Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC), finding that her impairments restrict her to a limited range of “light” work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b). (AR, pp. 14-15).

         4. The ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to perform her past relevant work. (AR, p. 20).

         5. The ALJ found that Plaintiff is not disabled because, considering her age, education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that she can perform. AR, p. 21.

         Plaintiff's arguments

         Plaintiff presents three arguments (in her own words):

1. The ALJ erred by failing to properly consider all of the Plaintiff's impairments and by failing to provide sufficient reasons for not finding these impairments to be severe impairments.
2. The ALJ erred by failing to properly consider the opinion of Consultative Examiner Dr. Bruce Davis.
3. The ALJ erred by failing to include a function-by-function assessment in the RFC assessment as required by SSR ...

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