United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
WILLIAM A. WHITTEMORE Plaintiff,
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.
CHRISTOPHER H. STEGER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action was timely instituted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1383(c)(3) seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's
final decision denying William A. Whittemore's
("Plaintiff") claim for Supplemental Security
Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1385. Plaintiff
seeks benefits primarily on the basis of human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV), chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), degenerative disc disease (DDD), diabetes,
gastrointestinal dysfunction, and plantar fasciitis. [Doc.
13, Pl.'s br. at 2]. The parties have consented to entry
of final judgment by the United States Magistrate Judge under
the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), with any appeal to
the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [Doc. 15].
Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 12] and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 16] are pending. For the
reasons stated herein, the Court will GRANT
Plaintiff's Motion [Doc. 12] and DENY
Defendant's Motion [Doc. 16]. Accordingly, the Court will
REVERSE the Commissioner's decision and
REMAND for an award of benefits as of
February 26, 2016.
requests a review of the Commissioner's final decision,
dated December 6, 2017 [Tr. 12-21], denying him benefits.
Prior to the current claim, Plaintiff had filed an earlier
application for SSI on July 23, 2012. Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) Ronald J. Feibus granted Plaintiff a closed
period of disability in his decision dated September 25,
2014. [Tr. 123-132]. In granting Plaintiff disability from
December 16, 2012, through August 1, 2013, ALJ Feibus found
Plaintiff was capable of less than sedentary work. ALJ Feibus
further concluded that, as of August 2, 2013, Plaintiff's
condition had improved so that he was capable of sedentary
work-a finding which meant Plaintiff was not disabled as of
August 2, 2013. [Tr. 131-132].
February 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed the current application
for SSI alleging disability commencing on February 26, 2016.
This claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Following a hearing on August 29, 2017, ALJ Angela Saindon
denied Plaintiff's claim in her December 6, 2017,
decision. The Appeals Council denied review, and ALJ
Saindon's decision became the Commissioner's decision
subject to review by this Court. This action followed.
was 50 years old at the time of his alleged onset date of
disability-February 26, 2016-making him an individual
"closely approaching advanced age." 20 CFR
416.963(b). He has a GED and no past relevant work. ALJ
Feibus and ALJ Saindon reviewed in detail the medical
evidence in the administrative record, and the Court
incorporates those reviews herein. The Court will discuss the
evidence as is necessary to address the issues in this case.
considering the entire record, the ALJ made the following
findings which are relevant to this review:
• The claimant has the following severe impairments:
bilateral moderate hearing impairment; chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD); degenerative disc disease status
post L4-L5 fusion and decompressive laminectomy;
gastrointestinal dysfunction status post removal of nine feet
of the small bowel in 2012; type II diabetes mellitus,
uncontrolled; obesity and polysubstance abuse, in remission,
by history (20 CFR 416.920(C)). [Tr. 14].
• Plaintiff does not have an impairment or impairments
which meets one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. [Tr. 15].
• Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (RFC)
to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except
that he can occasionally climb ramps and stairs and never
climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. The claimant can
occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. He can
have occasional exposure to extreme heat, cold, dusts, gases,
fumes, odors or other pulmonary irritants and hazards. The
claimant is limited to work within a work setting of moderate
noise as that term is defined in the Dictionary of