United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division
Honorable Waverly D. Crenshaw, Chief District Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BARBARA D. HOLMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)
and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of the final
decision of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner” or “Defendant”)
denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) as provided under Titles II and XVI,
respectively, of the Social Security Act (“the
Act”). The case is currently pending on Plaintiff's
motion for judgment on the administrative record
(see Docket Entry (“DE”) 23), to which
Defendant has filed a response. See DE 28. This
matter has been referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) for initial consideration and a Report
and Recommendation. See DE 4.
review of the administrative record as a whole and
consideration of the parties' filings, the undersigned
Magistrate Judge respectfully recommends that Plaintiff's
motion (DE 23) be DENIED.
filed applications for DIB and SSI on August 16, 2011.
See Transcript of the Administrative Record (DE 17,
21-1) at 103-04.1F He alleged a disability onset date of
August 16, 2011 and asserted that he was unable to work
because of problems with his heart, back, right hand, and
anxiety. AR 103-04, 120. Plaintiff's applications were
denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 103-06.
Pursuant to his request for a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff
appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ
Joan Lawrence on September 17, 2013. AR 85. The ALJ denied
the claim on February 7, 2014. AR 64-66. The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's
decision on April 17, 2015 (AR 53-55), thereby making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
22, 2015, Plaintiff filed suit in this district court seeking
judicial review of the ALJ's denial pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
405(g). See DE 1. On September 11, 2015, the
District Judge enter an order vacating the ALJ's decision
and remanding Plaintiff's claim pursuant to sentence six
of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for a de novo
administrative hearing, which resulted in the district court
retaining jurisdiction until the post-remand proceedings were
completed. See DE 15.2F On August 15, 2018, the
Commissioner filed the administrative record, which indicated
that Plaintiff's claim was again denied following remand.
AR 1-3.3F On February 15, 2019, Plaintiff filed the
instant motion for judgment on the administrative record.
See DE 23.
THE ALJ FINDINGS
ALJ's second unfavorable decision on April 28, 2017,
included the following enumerated findings based upon the
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2015.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since August 16, 2011, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following “severe”
impairments: degenerative disc disease of the spine; coronary
artery disease; sleep apnea; chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD) in a setting of ongoing tobacco abuse against
medical advice; a depressive disorder; and post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. 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 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except that he is precluded
from any climbing of ladders; limited to occasional
balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, and
climbing stairs; should avoid humidity, temperature extremes,
hazards, and pulmonary irritants such as dust, fumes, etc.
due to COPD; and can deal with change and people 1/3 of the
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on September 16, 1972 and was 38
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41
and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. 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 404.1569, 404.1569(a),
416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from August 16, 2011, through the
date of this decision ...