United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
CARRIE E. STILLWELL, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
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. 21]. Now before the Court
are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Memorandum in Support [Docs. 24 & 25] and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs.
27 & 28]. Carrie E. Stillwell (“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 motion.
September 13, 2010, 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 an amended alleged onset date of January
4, 2012. [Tr. 1 at 26; Tr. 2 at 16]. Plaintiff also filed a
concurrent application for disability insurance benefits
pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act; however,
Plaintiff states that she is not appealing the outcome of her
Title II claim. [Doc. 25 at 1].
April 15, 2015, ALJ Jim Beeby issued a decision denying
Plaintiff's claim for supplemental security income
benefits. [Tr. 2 at 38-52]. The Appeals Council subsequently
granted Plaintiff's request for review, and remanded the
case on December 22, 2015, for the ALJ to address
Plaintiff's objection to the vocational expert, Dr. J.D.
Flynn, and to re-assess the weight given to the third-party
function report from Plaintiff's husband. [Tr. 2 at
57-60]. A second hearing was held on July 18, 2016. [Tr. 3 at
621-42]. On November 1, 2016, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was not disabled. [Tr. 2 at 16-33]. On August 18, 2017, the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review
[Tr. 2 at 4-7], making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on October 3, 2017, 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 January 4, 2012, the amended onset date (20
CFR 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments, the
combination of which is severe: super morbid obesity;
degenerative disc disease; knee disorder; hypertension;
hyperlipidemia; hypothyroidism (Grave's disease);
depressive disorder; and anxiety disorder (20 CFR
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 less than the full range of sedentary work as defined
in 20 CFR 416.967(a). The claimant can lift and carry, push
and pull up to 10 pounds occasionally, and up to 10 pounds
frequently. With normal breaks in an eight-hour day, she can
sit for six hours, and stand and walk for three hours; can
never climb ladders or scaffolds; can never crouch, or crawl;
can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; and can occasionally
balance, stoop, and kneel. The claimant can understand and
remember simple, detailed and multi-step tasks, but not
executive level tasks; can concentrate and persist for these
tasks; can interact appropriately with co-workers and
supervisors on an occasional basis, but interaction with the
public should be on an occasional one-on-one basis; and can
adapt to infrequent change.
5. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on August 27, 1975 and was 35 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, 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 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. I have essentially complied with the Appeals Council
remand order, set out in its entirety in exhibit B15B, by
answering the representative's objection regarding the
vocational expert, addressing the husband's third party
function report, and holding a hearing where the claimant had
an opportunity to testify, with vocational expert testimony.
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since January 4, 2012, the