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Adams v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

April 9, 2014

MARY ALENE ADAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOSEPH M. HOOD, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon cross-motions for summary judgment [DE 10, 11] on Plaintiff's appeal, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the Commissioner's denial of her application for disability insurance benefits and disabled widow's benefits.[1] The Court, having reviewed the record and the parties' motions, will deny Plaintiff's motion and grant Defendant's motion.

I.

The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), conducts a fivestep analysis to determine disability:

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.

Here, Plaintiff filed applications for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits (DIB), and disabled widow's benefits on May 4, 2009 and June 8, 2009, respectively [Administrative Record ("AR") at 71-72, 180-83].[2] An ALJ held a hearing on May 17, 2011 [AR at 27-52] and issued a decision unfavorable to Plaintiff on June 17, 2011 [AR at 13-22]. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on July 24, 2012 and granted Plaintiff's request for more time to file a civil action on January 10, 2013 [AR at 1, 3-5]. This case is now ripe for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

Plaintiff was 53 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision, had a 12th grade education, and had worked in the past as a bus driver [AR at 22, 31, 46, 180, 207, 210]. Plaintiff alleged onset of disability on March 11, 2009, due to nerve damage in her legs and arms, neck and back problems, and fibromyalgia [AR at 180, 207]. After considering the testimony and evidence in the record, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform a reduced range of medium work [AR at 18-20]. Based on Plaintiff's age, education, RFC, and vocational expert testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff could perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy [AR at 21-22]. Therefore, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled [AR at 22].

II.

This Court's review of administrative decision in this matter is limited to determining whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the correct legal standards were applied. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Ealy v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 594 F.3d 504, 512 (6th Cir. 2010). Substantial evidence is such evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Lindsley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 560 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 2009). In reviewing a case for substantial evidence, the court may not try the case de novo, resolve conflicts in evidence, or decide questions of credibility. Jordan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 548 F.3d 417, 422 (6th Cir. 2008). An administrative ...


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