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Floyd v. Astrue

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

December 3, 2013

BEVERLY SUE FLOYD, Plaintiff
v.
MICHAEL ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

KAREN K. CALDWELL, District Judge.

Before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment on Plaintiff Beverly Sue Floyd's appeal of the Commissioner's denial of her application for disability insurance benefits. For the following reasons, the Court will grant the Commissioner's motion (DE 9) and deny the Plaintiff's motion (DE 8).

I. Background

At the time that the ALJ conducted a hearing on this matter, the Plaintiff was 48 years old. AR 31. She alleges disability beginning December 31, 2004. AR 158-61. Her claim for disability benefits was denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 72. After hearing the matter, the ALJ issued a decision denying the Plaintiff's claim. AR 13. The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for a review and the Plaintiff then filed this action. AR 1.

The Plaintiff dropped out of high school but obtained a GED. AR 31-33. She worked from 1998 to 2008 as an assistant manager at Dairy Queen. AR 15. She worked as a cashier at a Dollar General Store from April 2008 to December 2008 when she asserts she stopped working due to her medical condition. AR 15.

The ALJ analyzed the Plaintiff's claim using the traditional five-step analysis. At step one, the ALJ determined that further evidence was required to determine whether the Plaintiff is engaged in substantial gainful activity. AR 15. The ALJ declined to decide this issue, however, finding that the claim should be denied at a later step regardless of whether the Plaintiff was engaged in gainful activity. AR 15.

At step two, the ALJ determined that the Plaintiff had certain severe impairments consisting of fibromyalgia, thoracic spine degenerative disc disease, lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, bilateral knee osteoarthritis, plantar fasciitis, and right shoulder tendonitis. AR 16. At step three, however, the ALJ determined that the claim did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled a listed impairment. AR 17.

The ALJ determined that the Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity to lift and carry more than 20 pounds occasionally and up to 10 pounds frequently; to stand and/or walk two hours in an eight-hour workday, but not more than 30 minutes at one time; and to sit six hours in an eight-hour workday. The ALJ further determined that the Plaintiff could occasionally climb, balance, kneel, crouch and crawl. AR 17.

At step four, the ALJ determined that the Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work. AR 19. At step five, however, the ALJ determined that there are jobs in significant numbers in the national economy that the Plaintiff could perform. AR 20. Thus, the ALJ determined that the Plaintiff was not disabled.

II. Analysis

This Court's inquiry on review is limited to determining if the ALJ's findings were supported by substantial evidence. See 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g); Wright v. Massanari, 321 F.3d 611, 614 (6th Cir. 2003). The Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in two ways: (1) by finding the Plaintiff's mental disorders were nonsevere impairments; and (2) by failing to grant sufficient weight to the opinion evidence offered by the Plaintiff's treating physician.

As to the first alleged error - the ALJ's determination that the Plaintiff's mental condition was not severe - the ALJ recognized that the Plaintiff had mental impairments of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, personality disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder but determined that these disorders, whether considered individually or in combination, were nonsevere because they imposed only minimal limitations on the Plaintiff's ability to perform mental work activities. AR 16. This finding is supported by substantial evidence.

In reaching her determination, the ALJ considered the four functional areas known as the "paragraph B" criteria. AR 16. As to the first functional area - daily living - the ALJ noted that the Plaintiff herself had admitted a wide range of daily activities including helping with her grandchildren, doing laundry and other light household cleaning, reading, cooking, shopping, driving, watching television, visiting with friends and family, and eating out at restaurants. AR 16.

As to the second functional area - social functioning - the ALJ noted that the Plaintiff admitted that she can tolerate being in public and that she was able to visit with friends and family and attend church on a regular basis. As to the third functional area - concentration and persistence or pace - the ALJ noted that the Plaintiff was able to engage in activities that required these skills including reading, driving, and cooking. With regard to the ...


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