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Harness v. Berryhill

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

March 30, 2018

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

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Debra C. Poplin United States Magistrate Judge

         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. 19]. Now before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 22 & 23] and the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 24 & 25]. Jessica A. Harness (“the 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 GRANT the Plaintiff's motion and DENY the Commissioner's motion.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On April 10, 2013, the Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1385, claiming a period of disability that began on April 10, 2013. [Tr. 20, 155-60]. After her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, the Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 108]. A hearing was held on April 10, 2015. [Tr. 37-63]. On July 14, 2015, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 20-32]. The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-6], making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Having exhausted her administrative remedies, the Plaintiff filed a Complaint with this Court on September 29, 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 has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 10, 2013, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.)
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: morbid obesity, depression, mild degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, fibromyalgia, and migraine headaches (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. 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 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant had the residual functional capacity to lift and/or carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She can sit, stand and/or walk for a total of about 6 hours each in an 8-hour workday. She must avoid climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds but can occasionally climb ramps or stairs. She can frequently balance. She can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl. She must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards, such as unprotected heights and machinery. She is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks but can apply commonsense and understanding to carry out oral, written and diagrammatic instructions.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on February 9, 1980 and was 33 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of jobs skills is not an issue in this case because the claimant's past relevant work is unskilled (20 CFR 416.968).
9. 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 416.969 and 416.969(a)).
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since April 10, 2013, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).

[Tr. 22-31].

         III. ...


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