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Kimrey v. Berryhill

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

May 25, 2018

DEBORAH KIMREY, 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. 13]. Now before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 14 and 15] and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 16 and 17]. Deborah Kimrey (“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 November 11, 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 October 30, 2011. [Tr. 171-73, 188]. After her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 121-22]. A hearing was held on September 21, 2016. [Tr. 55-75]. On February 3, 2017, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 37-49]. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-4], making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Having exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a Complaint with this Court on July 7, 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, 2016.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of October 30, 2011 through her date last insured of December 31, 2016 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: asthma, sleep apnea, obesity, and depression (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 had the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) except she must avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants and hazards. The claimant could occasionally climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and frequently climb ramps or stairs. Additionally, she could frequently stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. Mentally, she could perform simple one-to-two step tasks.
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 August 3, 1956 and was 60 years old, which is defined as an individual of advanced age, on the date last insured. The claimant subsequently changed age category to closely approaching retirement age (20 CFR 404.1563).
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 dated 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 could have performed (20 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from October 30, 2011, the alleged onset date, through December 31, 2016, the ...

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