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Boyd v. Colvin

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

August 12, 2014

SARAH ELIZAHBETH BOYD, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM. OPINION, AND ORDER

KAREN K. CALDWELL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Sarah Boyd brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). The Court, having reviewed the record, will affirm he Commissioner's decision, as it is supported by the substantial evidence.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Boyd filed her claim for benefits on May 7, 2010, alleging an onset date of May 3, 2004. (AR 18). Her claim was initially denied and denied again on reconsideration. (AR 18), Boyd then filed a written request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (AR 18). A hearing was held on September 27, 2011 and a supplemental hearing was held on April 16, 2012. (AR 18). The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 11, 2012. (AR 30). The Appeals Council ("AC") then denied Boyd's request for review. (AR 1).

At the time of administrative hearing, Boyd was nineteen years old, married, and had. never been employed. (DE 15-1, p.4). She completed the tenth grade in school. (AR 15-1, p. 4). She alleges that she is disabled due to depression and anxiety. (AR 51). Boyd also alleges she has arthritis in her legs; and is borderline intellectual functioning. (AR 20, 22).

In determining whether a claimant has a compensable disability under the Social Security Act (the "Act"), the regulations provide a five-step sequential process which the ALJ must follow. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(e); see Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525. 529 (6th Cir. 1997). The five steps, in summary, are as follows:

(1) If the claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful activity, she is not disabled.
(2) If the claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity, her impairment must be severe before she can be found disabled.
(3) If the claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity and is suffering from a severe impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and her impairment or equals a listed impairment, the claimant is presumed disabled without further inquiry.
(4) If the claimant's impairment does not prevent her from doing past relevant work, she is not disabled.
(5) Even if the claimant's impairment does prevent her from doing her past relevant work, if other work exists in the national economy that accommodates her residual functional capacity and vocational factors (age, education, skills, etc.), she is not disabled.

Id. The burden of proof is on the claimant throughout the first four steps of the process to prove that she is disabled. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146, n. 5 (1987). If the ALJ reaches the fifth step without finding that the claimant is not disabled, then the burden shifts to the Commissioner to consider the claimant's residual functional capacity, age, education, and past work experience to determine if she could perform other work. If not, she would be deemed disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404, 1520(f). Importantly, the Commissioner only has the burden of proof on "the fifth step, proving that there is work available in the economy that the claimant can perform." Her v. Coirart'r of Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d. 388, 391 (6th Cir. 1999).

In this case, the ALJ began his analysis at step one by determining that the claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her application date. (AR 20). At step two, the ALJ determined that Boyd suffers from the following severe impairment: borderline intellectual functioning. (AR 20). In the third step, the ALJ found that the claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairment s that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. (AR 22).

At step four, the ALJ found that based on the entire record, Boyd has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") as follows:

to perform a range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: The claimant is able to understand and remember simple instructions and procedures requiring brief initial learning periods, sustain concentration, effort and adequate though not rapid pace for simple tasks requiring little independent judgment and involving minimal variations and doing so at requisite schedules of work and breaks, interact frequently as needed with supervisors and peers and sufficiently for task completion, yet requiring no significant interaction with the public, and adapt adequately to situational conditions and changes with reasonable support and structures, and fairly ...

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