United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
TINA L. MCCONNELL, 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. 12]. 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.
15 & 16]. Tina L. McConnell (“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.
March 10, 2015, 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 February 21, 2015. [Tr. 15, 253-55].
After her application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ.
[Tr. 171]. A hearing was held on February 28, 2017. [Tr.
39-68]. On September 8, 2017, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was not disabled. [Tr. 134-46]. However, the Appeals Council
remanded the case on November 28, 2017. [Tr. 144-46]. A
second hearing before the ALJ was conducted on April 3, 2018.
[Tr. 69-100]. The ALJ thereafter rendered an unfavorable
decision on May 4, 2018, finding that Plaintiff was not
disabled. [Tr. 15-31]. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's Request for Review on July 10, 2018 [Tr.
1-6], making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint with this Court on September 11, 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.
May 4, 2018 disability decision, ALJ James Dixon made the
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on December 31, 2016.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
activity during the period from her alleged onset date of
February 21, 2015 though her date late insured of December
31, 2016 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the
following severe impairments: degenerative joint disease in
the left shoulder, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress
disorder, anxiety, depression, and unspecified personality
disorder with avoidant and dependent traits (20 CFR
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled 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, the
undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the
claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform
medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c). The claimant
could lift and carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds
frequently. She could stand, walk, and sit about six hours
each in an eight-hour day. She had unlimited ability for
pushing and pulling within exertional limitations and there
were no postural limitations. She could occasionally reach
overhead with the left upper extremity. All other
manipulative activities were unlimited. There were no visual
or communicative limitations. She must avoid concentrated
exposure to noise. The claimant would be able to maintain
attention and concentration for two (2) hours at a time, as
required for the performance of simple tasks. She could
tolerate occasional social interactions. She would be able to
adapt to occasional routine changes and respond to directions
from others within the previously described restrictions.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to
perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on June 6, 1972 and was 44 years
old, defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date
last insured (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
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. Through the date last insured, considering the
claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual
functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant
could have performed (20 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in
the Social Security Act, at any time from February 21, 2015,
the alleged onset date, through December 31, 2016, the date
last insured (20 CFR 404.1520(g)).
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.