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. 19]. Now before the Court
are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Memorandum in Support [Docs. 20 & 21] and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs.
22 & 23]. Rebecca Lynn Hutsell (“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.
12, 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 April 1, 2008.
[Tr. 11, 58]. After her application was denied initially and
upon reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
ALJ. [Tr. 90-92]. A hearing was held on December 22, 2016.
[Tr. 25-45]. On January 11, 2017, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 11-20]. The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review on December 4, 2017
[Tr. 1-5], making the ALJ's decision the final decision
of the Commissioner.
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on January 24, 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 June 12, 2014, the application date (20 CFR
416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: chronic
low back pain; depressive disorder; and posttraumatic stress
disorder (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, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 416.967(b) except the claimant can lift and carry 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She required a
sit/stand option and the ability to change positions every
½-hour and no interaction with the general public.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on January 29, 1976 and was 38 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 has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. 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).
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 June 12, 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. ...