United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division
BILLY PRESTON AMBROSE, JR.
ANDREW M. SAUL Commissioner of Social Security
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BARBARA D. HOLMES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
The Honorable Waverly D. Crenshaw, Chief District
filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)
and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of the final
decision of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's claim
for period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”), and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) as provided under Titles II and XVI of
the Social Security Act (“the Act”). The case is
currently pending on Plaintiff's motion for judgment on
the administrative record (See Docket Entry
(“DE”) 13), to which Defendant has filed a
response. See DE 15. Plaintiff has also filed a
subsequent reply to Defendant's response. See DE
16. This matter has been referred to the undersigned pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) for initial consideration and a
report and recommendation. See DE 4.
review of the administrative record as a whole and
consideration of the parties' filings, the undersigned
Magistrate Judge respectfully recommends that Plaintiff's
motion (DE 13) be DENIED.
filed an application for SSI on March 4, 2014 and a
subsequent application for a period of disability and DIB on
April 4, 2014. See Transcript of the Administrative
Record (DE 8) at 17, 62. He alleged a disability onset date of
February 28, 2014. AR 17, 63. Plaintiff asserted that he was
unable to work because of a nervous disorder, learning
problems, blindness, and dizziness. AR 86.
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
AR 17, 62, 77. Pursuant to his request for a hearing before
an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff
appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ
Shannon H. Heath on December 13, 2016. AR 38. The ALJ denied
the claim on August 3, 2017. AR 14-16. The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's
decision on May 10, 2018 (AR 1-3), thereby making the
ALJ's 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).
THE ALJ FINDINGS
issued an unfavorable decision and made the following
enumerated findings based upon the record:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2020.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since October 1, 2015, the alleged onset date. (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: bipolar
disorder; generalized anxiety disorder; migraine headaches;
vertigo; and anisohyperopic amblyopia and esotropia, status
post eye surgery (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(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, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels but with the following nonexertional
limitations: The claimant should not climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds, or work around unprotected heights and moving
machinery. He can understand, remember, and carry out simple
and detailed tasks, but not complex tasks. The claimant can
maintain concentration, persistence and pace for same tasks
with normal breaks spread throughout the day. He can interact
with the public occasionally and with supervisors and
coworkers appropriately. Additionally, the claimant can adapt
to routine changes in the workplace.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on March 21, 1978 and was 37 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on
the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
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, 404.1569(a),
416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from October 1, 2015, through the
date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
REVIEW OF THE RECORD
parties and the ALJ have thoroughly summarized and discussed
the medical and testimonial evidence of the administrative
record. Accordingly, the Court will discuss those matters
only to the extent necessary to analyze the parties'
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW A. Standard of
determination of disability under the Act is an
administrative decision. The only questions before this Court
upon judicial review are: (i) whether the decision of the
Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence, and (ii)
whether the Commissioner made legal errors in the process of
reaching the decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial
evidence is defined as “more than a mere
scintilla” and “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). If substantial evidence
supports the ALJ's decision, that decision must be
affirmed “even if there is substantial evidence in the
record that would have supported an opposite
conclusion.” Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 406 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Key
v. Callahan, 109 F.3d 270, 273 (6th Cir. 1997)). In
The Commissioner's findings are not subject to reversal
merely because substantial evidence exists in the record to
support a different conclusion. The substantial evidence
standard presupposes that there is a “zone of
choice” within which the Commissioner may proceed
without interference from the courts. If the