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Whittaker v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division

May 10, 2018

COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL Security Administration[1]


          J. GREGORY WEHRMAN United States Magistrate Judge.

         To The Honorable Waverly D. Crenshaw, Chief District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record. See Docket Entry (“DE”) 15. Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”). At issue is whether the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred in finding that Plaintiff was “not disabled, ” and therefore not entitled to a period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). (See Administrative Transcript (“Tr.”) at 17-19).[2] This matter has been referred to the undersigned, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), for initial consideration and a report and recommendation. See DE 6.

         Upon review of the administrative record and consideration of the parties' filings, I recommend that Plaintiff's motion (DE 15) be GRANTED, the decision of the Commissioner be REVERSED, and this matter be REMANDED for further administrative proceedings consistent with this Report.


         Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB and SSI on August 8, 2013 due to bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, peripheral artery disease, and arthritis, with an alleged disability onset date of January 15, 2010. (Tr. 121-22, 163).[3] Her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 121-22, 159-60). Pursuant to her request for a hearing before an ALJ, Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ George L. Evans, III on December 16, 2015. (Tr. 42). On March 2, 2016, the ALJ denied the claim. (Tr. 17-19). On April 5, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 1-3). Therefore, the ALJ's decision stands as the final determination of the Commissioner.

         As part of the decision, the ALJ made the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 16, 2014, the amended alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: back pain; arthritis; fibromyalgia; peripheral arterial disease of the lower extremities; obesity; vestibular hypofunction; depressive disorder; and adjustment disorder with anxiety (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(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, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
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) and 416.967(b). The claimant can stand for a total of four hours in an eight-hour workday; can walk for a total of two hours in an eight-hour workday; can sit for four hours in an eight-hour workday; requires the ability to change position every 30 minutes; can never climb or crawl; can occasionally bend, stoop, or crouch; can occasionally operate foot controls; should avoid all exposure to heights, hazards, and operating a motor vehicle; can work in jobs with a specific vocational and preparation (SVP) rating of 3 or less; and should avoid work involving public interaction and work that depends upon close interaction with supervisors and coworkers.
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 16, 1964 and was 49 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 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 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 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from June 16, 2014, through the date of this decision ...

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