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Russo v. Saul

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

August 26, 2019

KIMBERLY A. RUSSO, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL,[1] Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          HONORABLE WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR., CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ALISTAIR E. NEWBERN MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Kimberly A. Russo filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) denying her application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. (Doc. No. 1.) Now before the Court is Russo's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Doc. No. 14), to which the Commissioner has responded in opposition (Doc. No. 16). Russo has filed a reply. (Doc. No. 17.) Having considered these filings and the administrative record as a whole, and for the reasons that follow, the Magistrate Judge will recommend that Russo's motion be granted, that the ALJ's decision be reversed, and that this case be remanded for further administrative proceedings and rehearing consistent with this Report and Recommendation.

         I. Background

         A. Russo's Application for DIB

         Russo applied for DIB in April 2014 (AR 177-83[2]), alleging that she has been disabled and unable to work since April 15, 2010, as a result of, inter alia, back problems, bone spurs, knee pain, fibromyalgia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergies, dizziness, insomnia, sinus problems, night sweats, indigestion, plantar fasciitis, restless leg syndrome, strabismus, urinary incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, diverticulitis, confusion, depression and anxiety (AR 116, 118). The Commissioner denied Russo's application initially and on reconsideration. (AR 113-16, 120-21.) At Russo's request, an administrative law judge (ALJ) held a hearing on November 14, 2016. (AR 50-80, 124.) Russo appeared with a non-attorney representative and testified. (AR 56-75.) The ALJ also heard testimony from Jane Colvin-Roberson, a vocational expert. (AR 75-78.)

         On February 15, 2017, the ALJ issued a written decision finding that Russo was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act and applicable regulations and denying her claim for DIB. (AR 35-45.) Based on the record, the ALJ made the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2016.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of April 15, 2010 through her date last insured of December 31, 2016 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
* * *
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: disorders of the gastrointestinal system, spine disorders, and affective disorders (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
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4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
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5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c). She could lift fifty pounds occasionally and twenty-five pounds frequently. She could stand, sit, or walk for six of eight hours. The claimant is able to perform simple, low-level detailed and multi-step tasks with no more than occasional contact with coworkers, supervisors, and the public.
* * *
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was capable of performing past relevant work as an egg packer and inspector. This work did not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the ...

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