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Rogers v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

June 25, 2018

GINGER M. ROGERS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHRISTOPHER H. STEGER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff seeks judicial review pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act (“Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the denial by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) of her application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. The parties have consented to entry of final judgment by the United States Magistrate Judge under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), with any appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [Doc. 13]. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record [Doc. 9] shall be DENIED, the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 14] shall be GRANTED, and the decision of the Commissioner shall be AFFIRMED. Judgment in favor of the Defendant shall be entered.

         II. Background

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. [Doc. 5, Tr. 122-25]. Section 205(g) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), provides for judicial review of a “final decision” of the Commissioner of the SSA. Plaintiff's claim was denied and she requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). [Doc. 5, Tr. 75-76]. On January 8, 2016, following a hearing, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Doc. 5, Tr. 7-23]. On November 10, 2016, SSA's Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. [Doc. 5, Tr. 1-3]. Thus, Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies, and the ALJ's decision stands as the final decision of the Commissioner subject to judicial review. Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the district court on January 9, 2017. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a motion for judgment on the administrative record and the Commissioner filed a motion for summary judgment. Both motions are ripe for review.

         B. The ALJ's Findings

         After considering the entire record, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on March 31, 2009.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of August 1, 2007 through her date last insured of March 31, 2009. (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease; disorder of the muscle, ligaments, and fascia; and COPD. (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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except posturals limited to occasional. The claimant can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds and never have exposure to dangerous machinery. Handling and fingering are limited to frequent. The claimant must avoid exposure to fumes, dust, gases and pulmonary irritants. The claimant is limited to occasional neck extension, occasional neck flexion, and occasional neck rotation. The claimant can understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine instructions and can make simple work related decisions/judgments for unskilled work.
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 May 13, 1961, and was 47 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date last insured. (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has a limited 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 existed 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 August 1, 2007, the alleged onset date, through March 31, 2009, the ...

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