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Monahan v. Social Security Administration

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

May 1, 2019


          Crenshaw Chief Judge



         Pending before the court is Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Docket Entry No. 11), to which Defendant Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) filed a response (Docket Entry No. 13). Upon consideration of the parties' filings and the transcript of the administrative record (Docket Entry No. 7)[1] and for the reasons given herein, the Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that Plaintiff's motion for judgment be DENIED and that the decision of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED.


         Plaintiff, Patrick Joseph Monahan, Jr., filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act on June 12, 2014, alleging disability onset as of June 16, 2011, due to PTSD, depression, anxiety and back problems. (Tr. 33, 79, 92, 243). Plaintiff's claim was denied at the initial level on July 31, 2014, and on reconsideration on September 24, 2014. (Tr. 33, 90, 104, 109, 114). Plaintiff subsequently requested de novo review of his case by an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). (Tr. 33, 119). The ALJ heard the case on August 17, 2016, when Plaintiff appeared with counsel and gave testimony. (Tr. 33, 49-78). Testimony was also received by a vocational expert. (Tr. 73-77). At the conclusion of the hearing, the matter was taken under advisement until October 3, 2016, when the ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 33-44). That decision contains the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 16, 2011, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); major depressive disorder; spine disorder (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, I find 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 lift and carry, push and pull up to 20 pounds occasionally, and up to 10 pounds frequently. With normal breaks in an eight-hour day, he can sit for six hours, and stand and/or walk for six hours. The claimant can understand and carry out simple and detailed instructions; can maintain concentration, persistence and pace for simple and detailed, but not executive level tasks, despite infrequent distractions in a social setting; can tolerate only one-on-one interaction with the general public and occasional interaction with supervisors and co-workers; and can adapt to occasional changes in the workplace.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on March 26, 1989 and was 22 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (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. 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 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from June 16, 2011, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g)).

(Tr. 35, 36, 38, 42, 43).

         On January 24, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-5), thereby rendering that decision the final decision of the Commissioner. This civil action was thereafter timely filed, and the Court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. ...

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