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Fuller v. Astrue

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington

March 14, 2014

AMY NICOLE FULLER, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HENRY R. WILHOIT, Jr., Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) to challenge a final decision of the Defendant denying Plaintiffs application for supplemental security income benefits. The Court having reviewed the record in this case and the dispositive motions filed by the parties, and being otherwise sufficiently advised, for the reasons set forth herein, finds that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge is supported by substantial evidence and should be affirmed.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed her current application for supplemental security income benefits on July 13, 2009, alleging disability due to low back pain with degenerative disc disease and prior surgical treatment (Tr. 158-169). This application was denied initially and on reconsideration. On November 19, 2010, an administrative hearing was conducted by Administrative Law Judge Daniel Dadabo (hereinafter "ALJ"), wherein Plaintiff, accompanied by counsel, testified. At the hearing, Janet Rogers, a vocational expert (hereinafter "VE"), also testified.

At the hearing, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.920, the ALJ performed the following five-step sequential analysis in order to determine whether the Plaintiff was disabled:

Step 1: If the claimant is performing substantial gainful work, he is not disabled.
Step 2: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work, his impairment(s) must be severe before he can be found to be disabled based upon the requirements in 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(b).
Step 3: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work and has a severe impairment (or impairments) that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and his impairments (or impairments) meets or medically equals a listed impairment contained in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No.4, the claimant is disabled without further inquiry.
Step 4: If the claimant's impairment (or impairments) does not prevent him from doing his past relevant work, he is not disabled.
Step 5: Even if the claimant's impairment or impairments prevent him from performing his past relevant work, if other work exists in significant numbers in the national economy that accommodates his residual functional capacity and vocational factors, he is not disabled.

On March 23, 2011, the ALJ issued his decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 17-27). Plaintiff was 31 years old at the time of the hearing decision (Tr. 127). She has a 11th grade education and no demonstrable past relevant work experience (Tr. 147-152).

At Step 1 of the sequential analysis, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the date of her application for benefits (Tr.19).

The ALJ then determined, at Step 2, that Plaintiff suffers from a right sacroiliac joint thecal sac displacement secondary to a L5-S1 disc herniation, status post fusion and 2009 revision surgeries, which he found to be "severe" within the meaning of the Regulations (Tr. 19-20).

At Step 3, the ALJ found that Plaintiffs impairments did not meet or medically equal any of the listed impairments (Tr. 20). In doing so, the ALJ ...


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