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Bunch v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

May 14, 2018

RONNIE BUNCH, 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 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 Judgment on the Pleadings and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 13 and 14] and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 15 and 16]. Ronnie Bunch (“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.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 28, 2014, 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 that same date. [Tr.125-28]. After his application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 85]. A hearing was held on January 26, 2017. [Tr. 27-47]. On March 3, 2017, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 12-22]. 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 July 17, 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 meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2019.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 28, 2014, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: peripheral neuropathy, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension (20 CFR 404.1520(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 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except with no climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasional climbing ramps and stairs; occasional exposure to vibration; and no exposure to hazards such as unprotected heights or dangerous moving machinery.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past work as a sales agent for a manufactured home company (Oakwood homes). This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity. (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from August 28, 2014, through the date of ...

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