JOYCE E. COOPER
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
PLAINTIFF MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.
Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. The Court, having reviewed the record and the parties' dispositive motions, will affirm the Commissioner's decision, as it is supported by substantial evidence.
II. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE
On August 17, 2009, Plaintiff Joyce Cooper applied for disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits. In her application, Plaintiff claimed debilitating impairments due to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung disease, asthma, tuberculosis, chest pain, shortness of breath, and depression. (Doc. # 7-1, at 87). The Social Security Administration ("agency") denied these applications initially and upon reconsideration. (Doc. # 7-1, at 87-102). Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing, which was conducted before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Todd Spangler on September 16, 2010. (Doc. # 7-1, at 44).
At the hearing, Plaintiff testified that she last worked in April of 2005 as a cable puller, when her worsening lung problems forced her to quit. (Doc. # 7-1, at 49). Plaintiff has not worked since then, with the exception of a year long stint as a consignment store owner. (Doc. # 7-1, at 52). Plaintiff claimed that even then, her respiratory problems made it impossible for her to work, as people's strong perfume would "send [her] into a coughing spell." (Doc. # 7-1, at 52).
After considering the evidence of record, including witness statements and treatment records from various medical professionals, ALJ Spangler determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits. (Doc. # 7-1, at 37-38). The ALJ found that Plaintiff did suffer from some serious impairments and that those impairments prevented her from doing her past work as a cable puller and salesperson. (Doc. # 7-1, at 36-37). But based on the testimony of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was still able to perform jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy. (Doc. # 7-1, at 37-38). Consequently, Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act and was not entitled to benefits. (Doc. # 7-1, at 37-38).
Plaintiff appealed the Commissioner's decision to this Court on May 30, 2012 (Doc. #1) which has culminated in cross motions for summary judgment which are ripe for review (Docs. # 12, 13).
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Court's review is limited to determining whether the Commissioner's decision followed proper legal standards and whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence. Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007). Under this deferential standard, courts will not substitute their judgment for that of the ALJ. Id. The Court does not resolve evidentiary conflicts or decide questions of credibility. Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). Interpretations of statutes and agency regulations are questions of law, which the Court will review de novo. Smith v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 482 F.3d 873, 876 (6th Cir. 2007).
To determine whether an applicant qualifies for disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income, the Commissioner proceeds through a sequential five-step process:
First, the Commissioner considers whether the claimant is involved in "substantial, gainful" work activity. If so, the claimant is not entitled to benefits. If not, the Commissioner proceeds to the next step.
Second, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant suffers from any serious mental or physical impairments. If not, the claimant is not entitled to benefits. If so, the Commissioner proceeds to the next step.
Third, the Commissioner compares the claimant's physical or mental impairments with the automatic triggers for disability payments that are listed in agency regulations. If the claimant's impairments match one of those listed, then the claimant automatically qualifies for benefits. If the claimant does not automatically qualify, then the Commissioner proceeds to the next step.
Fourth, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant can perform past relevant work. If so, the claimant is not entitled to benefits. If not, the ...