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Ownby v. Berryhill

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

April 27, 2018

BERNARD S. OWNBY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, performing the duties and functions not reserved to the Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

         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. 12]. Now before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 15 & 16], Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 17 & 18], and Plaintiff's Reply Memorandum [Doc. 19]. Bernard S. Ownby (“the Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”), the final decision of Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill (“the Commissioner”). For the reasons that follow, the Court will GRANT Plaintiff's motion and DENY the Commissioner's motion.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq., claiming a period of disability that began on June 11, 2011. [Tr. 140-46]. After his application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 86]. A hearing was held on November 17, 2015. [Tr. 32-51]. On January 22, 2016, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 19-27]. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-3], making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Having exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a Complaint with this Court on May 12, 2017, 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 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 his alleged onset date of June 11, 2011 through his date last insured of December 31, 2014 (20 CFR 404.1571).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine and obesity (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 has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). He can frequently climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work. (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on November 27, 1965 and was 49 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
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 SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Through the date last insured, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant ...

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