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Johnson v. Berryhill

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

April 2, 2018

IRIS CHRISTEL JOHNSON Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHRISTOPHER H. STEGER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         This 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 Iris Johnson'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. 12]. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record [Doc. 9] shall be DENIED; the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 13] 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

         In December 2013, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434 (Tr. 265), alleging an onset date of disability of January 1, 2010 (Tr. 124). The agency denied Plaintiff's claim initially and on reconsideration (Tr. 178, 189). Plaintiff requested and obtained a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) in September 16, 2015 (Tr. 117-168). During the hearing, Plaintiff amended her alleged onset date of disability to July 1, 2012 (Tr. 165). By a decision dated February 3, 2016, ALJ Beverly Susler Parkhurst denied Plaintiff's claim for disability benefits (Tr. 103-115). On September 30, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-4). Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies, and the ALJ's decision stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. Section 205(g) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), provides for judicial review of a “final decision” of the Commissioner.

         B. The ALJ's Findings

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

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2014.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of July 1, 2012, through her date last insured of December 31, 2014 (20 CF'R 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: hypertension, hyperlipidemia, GERD, degenerative joint disease, migraines, osteoporosis and history of complex fracture (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled 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, through the date last insured, the claimant had 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 20 pounds occasionally, lifting or carrying 10 pounds frequently, sitting for 6 hours in an 8 hour workday, and standing or walking for 6 hours in an 8 hour workday. The claimant is capable of climbing ramps and stairs, twisting, climbing, balancing, stooping, crawling, crouching and kneeling for up to 1/3 of the day. The claimant is precluded from climbing ladders, ropes and scaffolds. The claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards, moving machinery and heights.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was capable of performing past relevant work as an administrative clerk. This work did not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CPR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from July 1, 2012, the alleged onset date, through December 31, 2014, the date last insured (20 CPR 404.1520(1)).

         [Tr. 105-06, 109].

         C. Relevant Facts

         1. Plaintiff's Age, Education, and Past Work Experience

         Plaintiff was 57 years old at the time of the hearing before the ALJ on September 16, 2015 (Tr. 137). She was 54 years old at the time of her amended, alleged onset date of disability of July 1, 2012. She is a high school graduate with past relevant work as an administrative clerk, semi-skilled, with a light exertional requirement (Tr. 137, 148).

         2. Plaintiff's Testimony and Medical History

         The ALJ and the parties have discussed adequately Plaintiff's medical history and testimony. The Court will discuss the Plaintiff's medical history and testimony only as it relates to the issues addressed in this case.

         III. ...


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