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Roark v. Colvin

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

August 13, 2014

DARRYL GLENN ROARK, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

KAREN K. CALDWELL, Chief District Judge.

The plaintiff, Darryl Glenn Roark, 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 his claim for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. The Court, having reviewed the record, will affirm the Commissioner's decision, as it is supported by substantial evidence.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Roark previously filed an application for disability benefits on January 5, 2009 and an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") issued an unfavorable decision on January 13, 2010. He filed a request for review on March 11, 2010, which the Appeals Counsel denied on October 26, 2010. He then filed a federal civil action regarding that decision and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky affirmed the decision of the ALJ.

Roark then filed this claim for benefits on December 1, 2010, alleging a disability beginning on January 11, 2010. The claim was denied initially on April 15, 2011, and upon reconsideration on August 24, 2011. He then filed a written request for a hearing before an ALJ. After the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 31, 2012. The Appeals Council denied his request for review and Roark now seeks review by this Court.

At the time of the alleged onset of disability, Roark was 44 years old. He has a limited education and is able to communicate in English. He claims to be disabled due to physical conditions, including history of congestive heart failure, history of decreased kidney function, and hypertension. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 12). In addition to these severe impairments, Roark was assessed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in September 2011; however, the ALJ found this impairment to be less than severe. (AR at 13).

Roark testified during the administrative hearing that his blood pressure was his biggest concern and that he takes five medications to control it. (AR at 28, 30). He also testified that the medication makes him very tired, requiring him to lie down for one-and-a-half to two hours twice daily. (AR at 31). He takes a dosage at 11 in the morning and one at 11 at night. (AR at 32). In regards to his kidneys, Roark testified he has a small blockage that causes him back pain. (AR at 28).

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, he is not disabled. If he is not engaged in such activity, then the ALJ must proceed to step two.
(2) If the claimant's impairment or combination of impairments is not "severe, " meaning the impairment(s) significantly limit his physical or mental ability to do basic work activities, he is not disabled. If the claimant's impairments are severe, then the ALJ must proceed to step three.

(3) If the claimant has a severe impairment or combination of impairments that meets or equal(s) in severity an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the Listing of Impairments), he is disabled. If not, then the ALJ must proceed to step four.

(4) If the claimant's impairment does not prevent him from doing past relevant work, he is not disabled. If it does, then the ALJ must proceed to step five.
(5) If other work exists in the national economy that accommodates the claimant's residual functional capacity and vocational factors (age, ...

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