United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
OPINION AND ORDER
KAREN K. CALDWELL, Chief District Judge.
The plaintiff Michael Dean Jackson brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision denying his claim for Disability Insurance Benefits. The Court, having reviewed the record, will reverse the Commissioner's decision and remand this matter for further consideration consistent with this opinion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
This Court's review of the Commissioner's decision is limited to determining whether it "is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards." Rabbers v. Comm'r Soc. Sec., 582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir.2009).
In determining whether a claimant has a compensable disability under the Social Security Act (the "Act"), the relevant 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, education, skills, etc.), he is not disabled.
Jackson filed an application for disability insurance benefits prior to the one currently under review. (AR at 42.) That application was denied by an ALJ by a decision dated November 5, 2010. Accordingly, the relevant time period for Jackson's current application begins November 6, 2010, the day after the decision on his prior application.
The ALJ deciding Jackson's most recent application began his analysis at step one by determining that Jackson has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 6, 2010. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 18.) At step two, the ALJ determined that Jackson suffers from the following severe impairments: lumbar degenerative disc disease status post remote history of resection of spinal cord ependymoma, with a small herniation at the L5/S1 level; status post bilateral carpal tunnel release surgeries; cervical degenerative disc disease with disc herniation at the C5/6 level; anxiety not otherwise specified. (AR at 18.) At step three, the ALJ found the claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. (AR at 18-A.)
The ALJ determined that Johnson has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform less than a full range of light and sedentary work. ...