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Gentry v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

November 19, 2018




         This is an action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (Commissioner) that the plaintiff, Sandra Joy Gentry is not disabled. Gentry seeks reversal of the decision of Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (Commissioner), as she asserts the decision is not supported by substantial evidence. Filing No. 15. The Commissioner seeks affirmance of the decision, asserting that Gentry had a fair hearing and full administrative consideration in accordance with applicable statutes and regulations, and the substantial evidence on the record as a whole supports the Commissioner's decision. Filing No. 17.

         I. Procedural Background

         Gentry filed for Period of Disability and Disability Insurance benefits on April 30, 2015, alleging disability beginning September 1, 2014. Filing No. 9-2 at CM/ECF p. 50. The application was denied on August 17, 2015. Id. Plaintiff requested reconsideration and that request was denied on October 7, 2015. Id. Plaintiff requested a hearing on November 11, 2015. A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on July 21, 2017. Id.

         On October 3, 2017, the ALJ issued a written decision DENYING Gentry's claim. Plaintiff timely filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision. The Appeals Council denied the request on January 29, 2018. Filing No. 9-2 at CM/ECF p. 2-5. Plaintiff timely filed her appeal in this court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 405(g), on March 23, 2018. Filing No. 1.

         II. The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ evaluated Gentry's claim through the five-step evaluation process to determine whether Gentry was disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act. As reflected in his decision, the ALJ made the following findings:

1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2019.
2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful employment since September 1, 2014, the alleged onset date. (20 CFR 404.1571 et. seq.).
3) The claimant has the following severe impairments: depression, anxiety with panic attacks, diabetes mellitus with neuropathy, hypertension, obesity, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, osteoarthritis of the right hip, and bilateral shoulder tendinitis (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 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5) The claimant has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except the claimant can engage in no more than occasional overhead reaching bilaterally; she can engage in no more than frequent handling bilaterally; and she can engage in no more than occasional pushing, pulling, or the operation of foot controls with the lower extremities bilaterally. Mentally, the claimant would be limited to unskilled, routine, and repetitive instructions and tasks; she could tolerate no more than occasional changes in a work place environment or routine; and she could have no more than occasional interaction with co-workers, supervisors, or the general public.
6) The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7) The claimant was born on April 29, 1969 and was 45 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).[1]
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)).

         III. Issues Raised for Judicial Review

         Gentry requests judicial review of the ALJ's decision, asserting that the following arguments support her claim for reversal.

1) The ALJ erred by failing to analyze the opinion evidence in accordance with the regulations, Agency policy, and Eighth Circuit precedent.
2) The ALJ erred in relying on vocational expert testimony to fulfill his step 5 burden without properly addressing her objections memorandum and rebuttal evidence related to the vocational expert's testimony.

         Filing No. 16.

         IV. The Record and ...

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