United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
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. 12]. Now before the Court is
Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and
Memorandum in Support [Docs. 13 & 14] and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs.
15 & 16]. Kenneth Ray Williams (“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.
4, 2015, 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 November 7,
2014. [Tr. 14, 136-38]. After his application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 86]. A hearing was held on August
24, 2016. [Tr. 32-53]. On September 29, 2016, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 14-23]. The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on
September 29, 2017 [Tr. 2-6], making the ALJ's decision
the final decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on October 25, 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.
made the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through June 30, 2019.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since November 7, 2014, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
osteoarthrosis and allied disorders (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, 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to lift and carry (including upward
pulling) fifty pounds occasionally and twenty-five pounds
frequently. He can stand, walk, and sit (with normal breaks)
about six hours each in an eight hour day. He can perform
unlimited pushing/pulling (including hand/foot controls)
within his exertional limitations. He can perform frequent
postural activities. He has no manipulative, visual,
communicative or environmental limitations.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on July 19, 1955 and was 59 years
old, which is defined as an individual of “advanced
age” on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant
subsequently changed age category to “closely
approaching retirement age” (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. 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
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from November 7, 2014, through
the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(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. ...