United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b), Rule 73 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. 13 & 14] and Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 17 &
18]. Annette Marie Makulski (“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.
1, 2013, Plaintiff protectively filed an application for
disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income benefits pursuant to Title II and XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq.,
and 1381 et seq., claiming a period of disability
that began on February 14, 2013. [Tr. 109-110, 395-402].
After her application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ.
[Tr. 172]. A hearing was held on April 9, 2015, and a second
hearing on November 5, 2015. [Tr. 444-517]. On March 2, 2016,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 14-27].
The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review
[Tr. 8-11], making the ALJ's decision the final decision
of the Commissioner.
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on April 5, 2017, seeking judicial
review of the Commissioner's final decision under Section
405(g) of the Social Security Act. [Doc. 2]. The parties have
filed competing dispositive motions, and this matter is now
ripe for adjudication.
made the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since February 14, 2013, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease; scoliosis; degenerative disc
disease; status-post right arm fracture; hypertension;
insomnia; major depressive disorder; generalized anxiety
disorder; and substance abuse (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and
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, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find
that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b), except that she can only occasionally perform
postural activities. She can only frequently reach above
shoulder level with her right arm. She should avoid frequent
exposure to pulmonary irritants. She is able to understand,
remember, and carry out simple and detailed instructions, but
is limited to work that requires no interaction with the
public and only occasional interaction with coworkers and
supervisors. She would do better in a job with few social
demands among coworkers and supervisors. The claimant is
limited to work that requires no more than occasional changes
in the work setting.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on December 19, 1961 and was 51
years old, which is defined as an individual closely
approaching advanced age, on the alleged disability onset
date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
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. 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 ...