United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
DAVID R. HURST, 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. 17]. Now before the Court
are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Memorandum in Support [Docs. 15 & 16] and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs.
18 & 19]. David R. Hurst (“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.
previously received Supplemental Security Income Benefits as
a child from September 2001 through September 2007 due to
cerebral palsy with right side hemiplegia, cognitive
deficits, a seizure disorder, and a vision issue, as
Plaintiff's condition met Listing 111.07. [Tr. 11].
However, Plaintiff's eligibility for benefits ceased in
2007 due to an increase in household income. [Id.].
February 20, 2016, 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
January 25, 1998, his date of birth. [Tr. 11, 176-83]. After
his application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ.
[Tr. 122-34]. A hearing was held on August 22, 2017. [Tr.
27-69]. On October 25, 2017, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was
not disabled. [Tr. 11-21]. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review on May 1, 2018 [Tr. 1-5],
making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on June 13, 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 February 20, 2016, the application date (20
CFR 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
cerebral palsy with mild right hemiparesis, seizure disorder,
headaches, and cognitive function in the borderline range (20
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 sedentary work as defined in
20 CFR 416.967(a) except that he is precluded from climbing
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; is limited to occasional
climbing ramps or stairs, balancing, stooping, kneeling,
crouching, or crawling; and is limited to frequent handling,
fingering, and feeling with the right upper extremity. He
should avoid moderate exposure to extreme cold and vibration.
He should avoid concentrated exposure to wetness and humidity
and to pulmonary irritants. He should avoid all exposure to
work place hazards. He is unable to operate foot controls
with the right lower extremity and is unable to perform
commercial driving. He is able to perform simple tasks where
changes in the work routine are infrequent.
5. The claimant was born on January 25, 1998, and was 18
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-44, on the date the application was filed (20 CFR
6. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
7. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the
claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 416.968).
8. 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
9. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since February 20, 2016, 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 ...