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Buckmaster v. Saul

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga

September 26, 2019

HOLLY LYNNE BUCKMASTER, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHRISTOPHER H. STEGER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This action was timely instituted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying Holly Lynne Buckmaster's ("Plaintiff") claim for disability insurance benefits ("DIB"), under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. Plaintiff seeks benefits on the basis of major motor seizures, borderline intellectual functioning, organic mental disorders, and migraines. [Doc. 15, Pl.'s br. at 1]. 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. 13].

         Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 16] and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 14] are pending. Plaintiff seeks remand of her claim for further administrative proceedings on two alleged bases: (1) the administrative law judge ("ALJ") did not include her limitations caused by migraines in his assessment of her residual functional capacity ("RFC"); and (2) the ALJ failed to follow the treating physician rule when he gave "little weight" to her neurologist's opinion that work would increase the frequency of her migraines and she was disabled by migraines.

         For the reasons stated herein, the Court will DENY the Commissioner's motion, GRANT Plaintiff's motion, and REMAND for further administrative proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         II. Background

         A. Procedural History

         On December 9, 2014, Plaintiff filed a claim for DIB alleging she had been disabled since August 27, 2014. [Tr. 15]. Her claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. She requested a hearing, which was held before ALJ Wesley R. Kliner on May 17, 2017. [Tr. 15]. The ALJ denied Plaintiff’s claim on October 6, 2017. On April 21, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a review. [Tr. 1-4]. Thus, Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies, and the ALJ’s decision stands as the final decision of the Commissioner subject to judicial review.

         B. The ALJ's Findings

         The ALJ made the following findings which are relevant to this review:

1. Plaintiff meets the insured status of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2018. [Tr. 17].
2. Plaintiff has severe impairments of major motor seizures, borderline intellectual functioning, organic mental disorders, and migraines. [Id.].
3. Plaintiff does not meet one of the listed impairments for disability found in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. [Tr. 18].
4. The Plaintiff "has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except she could never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; should never work at unprotected heights; should never work around exposed, dangerous moving mechanical parts; and could never operate a motor vehicle. The claimant should be limited to performing simple, routine tasks and making simple work-related decisions as a result of neurologic issues. She might be off task less ...

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