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Kiser v. Colvin

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

November 18, 2013

KRISTAL MARIE KISER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOSEPH M. HOOD, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon cross-motions for Summary Judgment [D.E. 10, 12] on Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner's denial of her application for child's insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income. [Tr. 19-33].[1] The Court, having reviewed the record and being otherwise sufficiently advised, will deny Plaintiff's motion and grant Defendant's motion.

I. Overview of the Process and the Instant Matter

The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), in determining disability, conducts a five-step analysis:

1. An individual who is working and engaging in substantial gainful activity is not disabled, regardless of the claimant's medical condition.
2. An individual who is working but does not have a "severe" impairment which significantly limits his physical or mental ability to do basic work activities is not disabled.
3. If an individual is not working and has a severe impairment which "meets the duration requirement and is listed in appendix 1 or is equal to a listed impairment(s)", then he is disabled regardless of other factors.
4. If a decision cannot be reached based on current work activity and medical facts alone, and the claimant has a severe impairment, then the Secretary reviews the claimant's residual functional capacity and the physical and mental demands of the claimant's previous work. If the claimant is able to continue to do this previous work, then he is not disabled.
5. If the claimant cannot do any work he did in the past because of a severe impairment, then the Secretary considers his residual functional capacity, age, education, and past work experience to see if he can do other work. If he cannot, the claimant is disabled.

Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520 (1982)). "The burden of proof is on the claimant throughout the first four steps of this process to prove that he is disabled." Id. "If the analysis reaches the fifth step without a finding that the claimant is not disabled, the burden transfers to the Secretary." Id.

In the instant matter, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the relevant time period under step one. [Tr. 24]. Under step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's medically determinable impairments of depression, borderline intellectual functioning, and obesity were "severe" as defined by the agency's regulations. [Tr. 24-25]; 20 CFR §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). The ALJ further found that Plaintiff's impairment of migraine headaches was a "non-severe" impairment. [Tr. 24-25].

During step three of the analysis, the ALJ considered all of Plaintiff's impairments and determined that none of them met the criteria listed in 20 CFR pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1. [Tr. 25-27]. After further review of the entire record, the ALJ concluded at step four that Plaintiff had a residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels. [Tr. 27-32]. However, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the "following nonexertional limitations: she can perform simple to moderately complex tasks involving no more than three-step instructions, in routine work settings involving no more than limited interaction with the public and no interaction with children." [Tr. 27].

The ALJ found that Plaintiff had no past relevant work. [Tr. 32]. The ALJ further found that there were jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. [Tr. 32]. Thus, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is not disabled under the Social Security Act. [Tr. 33].

In this appeal, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by summarily rejecting whether Plaintiff meets or equals listing 12.05(c), without analysis of the record, and that the ALJ erred in concluding that Plaintiff could perform work in the national economy because ...


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