United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
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. 16]. Now before the
Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Memorandum in Support [Docs. 20 & 21] and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs.
22 & 23]. Robin Hicks (“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 DENY Plaintiff's motion and
GRANT the Commissioner's motion.
2, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for supplemental
security income benefits pursuant to XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq.,
claiming a period of disability that began on November 1,
2013, the amended onset date. [Tr. 46-47, 187-92, 202]. After
her application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ.
[Tr. 139]. A hearing was held on November 6, 2015. [Tr.
42-95]. On January 27, 2016, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was
not disabled. [Tr. 23-37]. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-3], making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on April 28, 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.
made the following findings:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since July 2, 2013, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) of the right upper
extremity; low back pain; irritable bowel syndrome (IBS);
mood disorder; generalized anxiety disorder; posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTSD); and chronic obstructive pulmonary
disorder (COPD) (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 has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 416.967(b) except she cannot climb ladders, ropes, and
scaffolds; she can only frequently climb ramps and stairs,
balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch; and only occasionally
crawl. Handling with her bilateral upper extremities is
limited to frequently. She cannot tolerate exposure to
unprotected heights or open flames; cannot operate moving
machinery or motor vehicles; and cannot tolerate exposure to
environmental irritants, such as fumes, odors, dust chemical
fumes, and gasses or work in poorly ventilated areas. The
claimant is limited to simple, routine and repetitive tasks
in an environment free of fast-paced production requirements;
she can perform work involving only simply work-related
decisions with few, if any workplace changes; and can have
only occasional interaction with the public, coworkers and
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
(20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on November 4, 1961 and was 51 years
old, which is defined as closely approaching advanced age, on
the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. 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).
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
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since July 2, 2013, the date the