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Johnson v. Saul

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

July 19, 2019

VELMA REGINA JOHNSON
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL Commissioner of Social Security[1]

          Honorable William L. Campbell, Jr., District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BARBARA D. HOLMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff 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 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”) 22), to which Defendant has filed a response. See DE 23. Plaintiff has also filed a subsequent reply to Defendant's response. See DE 24. 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 7.

         Upon 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 22) be GRANTED, the decision of the Commissioner be REVERSED, and this matter be REMANDED for further administrative proceedings consistent with this Report.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI on August 12, 2015. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (DE 16) at 80-81.[2] She alleged a disability onset date of May 1, 2015. AR 80-81. Plaintiff asserted that she was unable to work because of heart problems, breast abscesses, obesity, ankle problems, diabetes, and breathing problems. AR 82.

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 80-81, 111-12. Pursuant to her 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 October 2, 2017. AR 31. The ALJ denied the claim on December 20, 2017. AR 14-16. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision on April 13, 2018 (AR 3-5), 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).

         II. THE ALJ FINDINGS

         The ALJ 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, 2019.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 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: Myocardial infarction, osteoarthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder (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). Sections 1.02, 4.02, 8.04, and 12.00 of the Listing of Impairments were given particularized scrutiny in reaching this conclusion.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she is limited to lifting ten-to-fifteen pounds occasionally, six-to-eight hours of walking and four-to-six hours of standing during each eight-hour timeframe. In addition, the claimant is limited to occasional climbing of ladders, ropes, and scaffolds and to frequent climbing of ramps and stairs. The claimant is also limited to frequent balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling. Although the claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to temperature extremes, she can understand, remember, and carry out simple and detailed, but not complex, tasks. The claimant can maintain concentration, persistence, and pace for two-hour intervals with breaks spread throughout the day. In addition, the claimant can occasionally interact appropriately with the public, co-workers, and supervisors. Finally, the claimant can adapt to occasional 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 5, 1967 and was 48 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to closely approaching advanced age (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a limited 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 ...

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