United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
CYNTHIA M. LEMONS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, performing the duties and functions not reserved to the Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
C Poplin, United States Magistrate Judge
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. 19]. Now before the Court is
Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative
Record and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 20 & 21] and
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in
Support [Docs. 24 & 25]. Cynthia M. Lemons
(“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
March 13, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for
supplemental security income benefits pursuant to Title XVI
of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1385,
claiming a period of disability that began on August 27,
2007. [Tr. 209, 233]. After her application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 123-25]. A hearing was held on
August 8, 2014. [Tr. 51-84]. At the request of
Plaintiff's counsel, a supplemental hearing was conducted
on January 30, 2015, after the ALJ had ordered that
consultative examinations be performed following the first
hearing. [Tr. 32-50, 82-83]. On March 2, 2015, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 8-31]. The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review [Tr. 1-6],
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 27, 2016,
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 March 13, 2012, the application date (20 CFR
416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and mood (bipolar)
disorder. (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, I find
that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a). The
claimant can lift and carry, push and pull ten pounds
occasionally and less than ten pounds frequently. With normal
breaks in an eight-hour day, she can sit for six hours and
stand and/or walk for two hours; she can never climb ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds; cannot crawl; and can only occasionally
climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, and crouch. She can
frequently kneel; cannot lift her arms above her shoulders;
and can tolerate one out of eight hours of exposure to
hazards. The claimant can understand and perform simple and
detailed, but not multi-step detailed, tasks; can maintain
concentration, persistence and pace for these tasks; can
relate to co-workers and supervisors for regular routines
without intensive interaction; can relate to the general
public on an occasional basis; and can adapt to gradual, and
5. The claimant has no past relevant work. (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on January 29, 1969 and was 43 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on
the date the application was filed. The claimant subsequently
changed age category to a younger individual age 45-49 (20
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the
claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 416.968).
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 March 13, 2012, the date
the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing the Commissioner's determination of whether an
individual is disabled pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
the Court is limited to determining whether the ALJ's
decision was reached through application of the correct legal
standards and in accordance with the procedure mandated by
the regulations and rulings promulgated by the Commissioner,
and whether the ALJ's findings are supported by
substantial evidence. Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted); Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378
F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004).
evidence is “more than a scintilla of evidence but less
than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)
(citations omitted). It is immaterial whether the record may
also possess substantial evidence to support a different
conclusion from that reached by the ALJ, or whether the
reviewing judge may have decided the case differently.
Crisp v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 790
F.2d 450, 453 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986). The substantial evidence
standard is intended to create a “‘zone of
choice' within which the Commissioner can act, without
the fear of court interference.” Buxton v.
Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 773 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. ...