United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
CHRISTOPHER H. STEGER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action was instituted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g) and 1383(c)(3) seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying Phillip Danny
Ward's ("Plaintiff") claim for Disability
Insurance Benefits ("DIB") as provided by the
Social Security Act. 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. 9].
reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment [Doc. 11] shall be GRANTED in part;
the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 12]
shall be DENIED; the decision of the
Commissioner shall be REVERSED; and this
action shall be REMANDED under Sentence Four
of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further consideration of the
opinion of Rickey Hutcheson D.O. pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527. Judgment in favor of Plaintiff shall be entered.
August 15, 2013, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (Act), 42
U.S.C. §§ 401-434 [Tr. 11, 138-41]. The agency
denied Plaintiff's claim initially and on reconsideration
[Tr. 96-98, 101-02]. On September 24, 2015, following a
hearing, an ALJ found that Plaintiff was not under a
"disability" as defined in the Act [Tr. 8-25,
26-72]. On September 12, 2016, SSA's Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-6]. Thus,
Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies, and the
ALJ's decision stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner subject to judicial review.
The ALJ's Findings
considering the entire record, the ALJ made the following
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2018.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 30, 2013, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairment:
degenerative disc disease (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 light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b), meaning that the claimant is capable of
lifting or carrying up to 10 pounds frequently, lifting or
carrying 20 pounds occasionally, sitting for 6 hours out of
an 8-hour day, and standing or walking for 6 hours out of an
8-hour day. The claimant can occasionally climb ramps and
stairs; he can occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and
scaffolds; and he can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel,
crouch, or crawl. The claimant can occasionally have
interaction with the public. The claimant can have infrequent
changes in the work setting, he can remember and perform 1 to
4 step detailed tasks, and he is unable to make decisions on
an executive level.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on August 29, 1964 and was 48 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on
the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently
changed age category to closely approaching advanced age (20
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 ...