United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
WILLIAM A. BRYE, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
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. 16]. Now before the Court
are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Memorandum in Support [Docs. 13 & 14] and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs.
22 & 23]. William A. Brye (“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.
31, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for disability
insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq., alleging
disability beginning on April 30, 2013. [Tr. 105, 261, 277].
After his application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ.
[Tr. 208]. A hearing was held on October 4, 2016. [Tr.
121-66]. On February 24, 2017, ALJ J. Elaine Burke found that
Plaintiff was not disabled. [Tr. 105-16]. The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review on March 20, 2018
[Tr. 1-7], making the ALJ's decision the final decision
of the Commissioner.
exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on May 18, 2018, 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.
February 24, 2017 disability decision, ALJ Burke made the
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2018.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 30, 2013, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine,
arthritis, and major knee joint dysfunction (20 CFR
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 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find
that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he
can sit for six hours and stand and/or walk for four hours
total in an eight-hour workday with no more than 30 minutes
of continuous sitting, standing, and walking. The claimant is
limited to no climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and
occasional climbing ramps and stairs, stooping, kneeling,
crouching, crawling, and operating foot controls with lower
extremities bilaterally; and frequent balancing, reaching,
and handling. He should avoid even moderate exposure to
vibrations and workplace hazards, such as dangerous machinery
and exposed heights.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work
as a logistics specialist. This work does not require the
performance of work-related activities precluded by the
claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from April 30, 2013, through the
date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing the Commissioner's determination of whether an
individual is disabled pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
the Court is limited to determining whether the ALJ's
decision was reached through application of the correct legal
standards and in accordance with the procedure mandated by
the regulations and rulings promulgated by the Commissioner,
and whether the ALJ's findings are supported by
substantial evidence. Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted); Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378
F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004).
evidence is “more than a scintilla of evidence but less
than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)
(citations omitted). It is immaterial whether the record may
also possess substantial evidence to support a different
conclusion from that reached by the ALJ, or whether the
reviewing judge may have decided the case differently.
Crisp v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 790
F.2d 450, 453 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986). The substantial evidence
standard is intended to create a “‘zone of
choice' within which the Commissioner can act, without
the fear of court interference.” Buxton v.
Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 773 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986)).
Therefore, the Court will not “try the case de
novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor decide
questions of credibility.” Garner v. Heckler,
745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984) (citation omitted).
review, the plaintiff “bears the burden of proving his
entitlement to benefits.” Boyes v. Sec'y. of
Health & Human Servs., 46 F.3d 510, 512 (6th Cir.
1994) (citation omitted).
is the inability “to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than twelve months.” 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A) and 1382c(a)(3)(A). A claimant will
only be considered disabled:
if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of
such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous
work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work
experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful
work which exists in the national economy, regardless of
whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he
lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or
whether he would be hired if he applied for work.
42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A) and 1382c(a)(3)(B).
is evaluated pursuant to a five-step analysis summarized as
1. If claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, he is
2. If claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity, his
impairment must be severe before he can be ...