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Marcum v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

July 14, 2014

TONYA G. MARCUM, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DANNY C. REEVES, District Judge.

This matter is pending for consideration of cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Tonya G. Marcum ("Marcum" or "the Claimant") and Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security ("the Commissioner"). [Record Nos. 12, 15] Marcum argues that the administrative law judge ("ALJ") assigned to her case erred in finding that she is not entitled to a period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"), and Supplemental Security Insurance ("SSI") under the Social Security Act ("Act"). She seeks reversal of the ALJ's decision and remand for an award of benefits. However, the Commissioner asserts that the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence and should be affirmed.

For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant the Commissioner's motion and deny the relief requested by Marcum.

I.

On February 11, 2010, Marcum applied for a period of disability and DIB under Title II of the Act, and SSI under Title XVI of the Act. [ See Administrative Transcript, "Tr., " at p. 18] She alleged a disability beginning January 1, 2010. Her claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Marcum, along with her representative Patsy R. Hughes and vocational expert ("VE") Linda Taber appeared before ALJ Roger L. Reynolds on September 10, 2012, for an administrative hearing. In a decision dated October 25, 2013, ALJ Reynolds found that Marcum was not disabled under sections 216(i), 223(d), or 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Act. [Tr., pp. 18-27]

Marcum was forty-one years old at the time of the ALJ's decision. She quit school at the beginning of the ninth grade. Thus, she has an eighth grade education. [Tr., pp. 34-35] Marcum has past work as a housekeeper, cashier, security guard, construction laborer, and babysitter. [Tr., pp. 25, 27] Marcum reported that she stopped working in January of 2010. [Tr., p. 169] She alleges disability due to hearing problems, anxiety, headaches, and high blood pressure. [ Id. ]

After reviewing the record and considering the testimony presented during the administrative hearing, the ALJ concluded that Marcum suffers from the severe impairments of bilateral hearing loss, borderline intellectual functioning, generalized anxiety disorder, a learning disorder in reading, obesity, hypertension, and seizure disorder. [Tr., p. 20] Notwithstanding these impairments, ALJ Reynolds found that Marcum retained the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform less than the full range of heavy, medium, light, and sedentary work, subject to the following limitations:

no work in excessively noisy environments or where acute hearing is required for safety or job performance, no work at heights or around industrial hazards; no commercial driving; requires entry level work with simple one-two-three step procedures, no frequent changes in job routines, no requirement for detailed or complex problem solving, independent planning or the setting of goals, should work in an object oriented environment with only occasional and casual contact with the general public.

[Tr., p. 22]

Based on the testimony presented during the administrative hearing, together with the medical evidence and consultative examiner's opinions, the ALJ found that Marcum was unable to perform any of her past relevant work. [Tr., p. 25] However, based on the VE's testimony, and after considering Marcum's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined that Marcum could perform other jobs that exist in the national economy, such as a light assembly worker, light laundry worker, and sedentary surveillance monitor. [Tr., p. 26] As a result, ALJ Reynolds concluded that Marcum is not disabled.

II.

Under the Social Security Act, a "disability" is defined as "the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity' because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment of at least one year's expected duration." Cruse v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 502 F.3d 532, 539 (6th Cir. 2007). A claimant's Social Security disability determination is made by an ALJ in accordance with "a five-step sequential evaluation process.'" Combs v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 459 F.3d 640, 642 (6th Cir. 2006) (en banc) (quoting 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)). If the claimant satisfies the first four steps of the process, the burden shifts to the Commissioner with respect to the fifth step. See Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003).

A claimant must first demonstrate that she is not engaged in substantial gainful employment at the time of the disability application. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b). Second, the claimant must show that she suffers from a severe impairment or combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). Third, if the claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful employment and has a severe impairment which is expected to last for at least twelve months and which meets or equals a listed impairment, she will be considered disabled without regard to age, education, and work experience. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d). Fourth, if the Commissioner cannot make a determination of disability based on medical evaluations and current work activity and the claimant has a severe impairment, the Commissioner will then review the claimant's RFC and relevant past work to determine whether she can perform her past work. If she can, she is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(f), 416.920(f).

Under the fifth step of the analysis, if the claimant's impairment prevents her from doing past work, the Commissioner will consider her RFC, age, education, and past work experience to determine whether she can perform other work. If she cannot perform other work, the Commissioner will find the claimant disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g), 416.920(g). The Commissioner has the burden of proof only on "the fifth step, proving that there is work available in the economy that the claimant can perform.'" White v. ...


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