United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
DEBORAH R. WAGNER, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
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. 14]. Now before the Court is
Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and
Memorandum in Support [Docs. 15 and 16] and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs.
17 and 18]. Deborah Wagner (“Plaintiff”) seeks
judicial review of the decision of the Administrative Law
Judge (“the ALJ”), the final decision of
Defendant Andrew M. Saul (“the Commissioner”).
For the reasons that follow, the Court will
GRANT Plaintiff's motion and
DENY the Commissioner's motion.
April 4, 2005, Plaintiff's application for disability
insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq., was
granted, and she was found disabled as of January 21, 2003.
on February 21, 2014, during a subsequent Continuing
Disability Review, it was determined that Plaintiff was no
longer disabled within the meaning of the Act as of February
1, 2014. [Tr. 150-51]. Following a hearing, on April 7, 2015,
the decision was upheld on reconsideration. [Tr. 167-76].
Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 177].
A hearing was held on August 4, 2015. [Tr. 65-81]. On August
19, 2015, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled as of
February 1, 2014. [Tr. 97-112]. The Appeals Council granted
Plaintiff's request for review and remanded the decision
back to the ALJ for reconsideration. [Tr. 113-16]. A hearing
was held by the ALJ on April 27, 2017 [Tr. 49-64], as well as
a supplemental hearing on September 28, 2017 [Tr. 34-48]. On
October 24, 2017, the ALJ again found that Plaintiff was not
disabled as of February 1, 2014. [Tr. 8-33]. The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on April
12, 2018 [Tr. 1-5], making the ALJ's second decision the
final decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on April 19, 2018, seeking judicial
review of the Commissioner's final decision under Section
405(g) of the Social Security Act. [Doc. 1]. This case was
subsequently reassigned to the undersigned on May 3, 2019.
[Doc. 19]. The parties have filed competing dispositive
motions, and this matter is now ripe for adjudication.
made the following findings:
1. The most recent favorable medical decision finding that
the claimant was disabled is the determination dated April 4,
2005. This is known as the “comparison point
decision” or CPD.
2. At the time of the CPD, the claimant had the following
medically determinable impairments: chronic sore throat;
reactive airway disease; hoarseness; chronic sinusitis;
chronic rhinitis; mold allergies; burning eyes; low back
pain; and fatigue. These impairments were found to result in
the residual functional capacity to perform less than
sedentary exertion on a regular and sustained basis.
3. Through the date of this decision, the claimant has not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since the CPD (20 CFR
4. The medical evidence establishes that the claimant did not
develop any additional impairments after the CPD through the
date of this decision. Thus, the claimant has continued to
have the same impairments that she had at the time of the
5. Since February 1, 2014, the claimant has not had an
impairment or combination of impairments which met or
medically equaled the severity of an impairment listed in 20
CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1525 and
6. Medical improvement occurred on February 1, 2014 (20 CFR
7. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that, since February 1, 2014, the claimant
has had the residual functional capacity to perform work at
all exertional levels except that she is limited as described
by Dr. Robert Blaine, MD, in Exhibit 19F, to occasional
exposure to humidity and wetness and no exposure to dust,
odors, fumes, and pulmonary irritants.
8. The claimant's medical improvement is related to the
ability to work because it resulted in an increase in the
claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR
9. Since February 1, 2014, the claimant has continued to have
a severe impairment or combination of impairments (20 CFR
10. Since February 1, 2014, the claimant has been capable of
performing past relevant work as a teacher. This work has not
required the performance of work-related activities precluded
by the claimant's ...