United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
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. 15]. Now before the Court
are Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative
Record and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 16 & 17] and
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in
Support [Docs. 23 & 24]. Daniel Ray Murphy
(“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 DENY Plaintiff's
motion and GRANT the Commissioner's
March 2, 2010, Plaintiff protectively filed an application
for disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq.,
alleging disability beginning on May 15, 2000. [Tr. 84].
After his application was denied and Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an ALJ, ALJ Eduardo Soto found on December 22,
2011 that Plaintiff was not disabled between May 15, 2000 and
September 30, 2005, his date last insured under Title II.
December 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for
supplemental security income benefits pursuant to Title XVI
of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et
seq., claiming a period of disability that began on
December 16, 2015, the amended onset date. [Tr. 12, 265, 323
(amended onset date)]. Plaintiff also filed another
application for Title II benefits, but this application was
denied because Plaintiff had not been insured under Title II
after the prior ALJ decision. [Tr. 262].
his Title XVI application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ.
[Tr. 159]. A hearing was held on January 6, 2017. [Tr. 68-
80]. On February 28, 2017, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was
not disabled. [Tr. 12-29]. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review on December 4, 2017 [Tr.
1-6], making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on February 2, 2018, 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 has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since December 16, 2014, the application date (20
CFR 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine;
cervicalgia; lumbago; hepatitis C; anxiety disorder, not
otherwise specified (NOS); depressive disorder, NOS;
antisocial personality disorder; bipolar disorder, mixed,
chronic; agoraphobia with panic disorder; post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD); and poly-substance dependence in
remission (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. 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 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find
that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform a reduced range of light work as defined in 20 CFR
416.967(b) except never crouching, crawling, or kneeling;
other postural limited to occasional; never ladders, ropes,
or scaffolds, heights, or dangerous machinery; requires 30
minute sit/stand option; no work around children or schools;
can understand, remember, and carryout simple instructions;
can make work-related judgments typically required for
unskilled work; can respond appropriately to supervision,
coworkers, and work situations; can have contact with the
general public on a rare, defined as less than 10% of the
time, basis and with supervisors and co-workers on an
occasional basis; can deal with changes in a routine work
setting on an infrequent, defined as less than 10% per day,
basis; should not work in a fast-paced production
5. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on December 7, 1977 and was 37 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on
the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant at least a high school education and is able
to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the
claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 416.968).
9. 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 416.969, and
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since December 16, 2014, the date
the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(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. 1986)).
Therefore, the Court will not “try the case de
novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor decide
questions of credibility.” Garner v. Heckler,
745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984) (citation omitted).
review, the plaintiff “bears the burden of proving his
entitlement to benefits.” Boyes v. Sec'y. of
Health & Human Servs., 46 F.3d 510, 512 (6th Cir.
1994) (citation omitted).
is the inability “to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than twelve months.” 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A) and 1382c(a)(3)(A). A claimant will
only be considered disabled:
if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of
such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous
work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work
experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful
work which exists in the national economy, regardless of
whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he
lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or
whether he would be hired if he applied for work.
§§ 423(d)(2)(A) and 1382c(a)(3)(B).
is evaluated pursuant to a five-step analysis ...