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Fox v. Saul

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division

December 17, 2019

KIMBERLY G. FOX
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL Commissioner of Social Security[1]

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BARBARA D. HOLMES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         To: The Honorable Waverly D. Crenshaw, Chief District Judge

         Plaintiff 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”) denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) as provided under Title II 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”) 16), to which Defendant has filed a response. See DE 21. 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 5.

         Upon review of the administrative record as a whole and consideration of the parties' filings, the undersigned Magistrate Judge respectfully recommends that Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (DE 16) be DENIED.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB on December 30, 2015 in which she asserted that she was unable to work due to spondylosis, bulging disks, sciatic nerve damage, osteoarthritis in the hips and knees, fibromyalgia, diabetes, hemiplegic migraines, chronic ovarian cysts, depression, and anxiety. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (DE 12) at 88, 111.[2] She alleged a disability onset date of November 15, 2012. AR 88.

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration AR 88, 106. Pursuant to her request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ George L. Evans on August 17, 2017. AR 36. On October 31, 2017, the ALJ denied the claim. AR 12-14. On August 20, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a review of the ALJ's decision (AR 1-3), thereby making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. This civil action was thereafter timely filed and this Court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. THE ALJ FINDINGS

         As part of the decision, the ALJ made the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 15, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; osteoarthritis; myalgias/fibromyalgia; obesity; diabetes mellitus; migraine headaches; ovarian cysts; depression; and anxiety (20 CFR 404.1520(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 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except she can perform no climbing or crawling, but she can occasionally bend or stoop. She can perform no pushing of foot controls. In addition, the claimant can perform unskilled work and can perform jobs requiring no more than one to three step instructions. She can perform jobs that do not require dealing with the public and only occasional interaction with co-workers and supervisors.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on March 6, 1972 and was 40 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to a younger individual age 45-49 (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. 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 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from November 15, 2012 through the date of ...

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