United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
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 Plaintiff's 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 March 25, 2009. She alleges disability beginning the same date, due to bipolar disorder, ADHD, PTSD, OCD, panic attacks, hypertension, a pinched nerve in her back, degenerative disc disease, hepatitis C and Bell's palsy (Tr. 66-72). This application was denied initially and on reconsideration. On July 13, 2011, an administrative hearing was conducted by Administrative Law Judge Kenneth Wilson (hereinafter "ALJ"), wherein Plaintiff, accompanied by counsel, testified. At the hearing, William Cody, 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 August 2, 2011, the ALJ issued his decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 28-38). He found Plaintiff had a combination of severe impairments, including bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, hepatitis C, asthma, and mild degenerative joint disease (Tr. 30). Despite these impairments, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work activity, with the following additional limitations:
... the claimant is able to understand and carry out repeated oral instructions for two step sustained tasks to completion in a calm setting with explained changes and no strict time limit pressures, the claimant will require occasional extra supervisory redirection and support, the claimant can frequently climb ramps and stairs, she should never climb ladders ropes or scaffolds, she can frequently balance, occasionally stoop, frequently crouch, occasionally crawl, there are no visual limitations, she should avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants, dusts and gases, and she should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme heat and cold.
The ALJ determined that, given this RFC, Plaintiff would be able to perform her past relevant work as a cook and food server (Tr. 37). Alternatively, relying on vocational expert (VE) testimony, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy (Tr. 37-38). As a result, the ALJ determined ...