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McMaster v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

September 30, 2014

MARK S. McMASTER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES D. MOYER, Magistrate Judge.

The plaintiff, Mark S. McMaster, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง405(g), seeking judicial review of an administrative decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, who denied his applications for disability insurance and supplemental security income benefits.

Mr. McMaster asserts that the administrative law judge's findings were not supported by substantial evidence and must be overturned. After reviewing the parties' fact and law summaries and the administrative record, the court finds that Mr. McMaster's arguments are not persuasive. The court will therefore affirm the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security.

I.

Mr. McMaster applied for disability insurance benefits in June 2008 and supplemental security income benefits in October 2009, alleging that he became disabled in December 2004 due to heart disease, back problems, diabetes, and diabetic neuropathy.[1] After his applications were denied initially and on reconsideration, Mr. McMaster filed a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). The ALJ conducted a hearing in June 2010, and then shortly thereafter issued a decision unfavorable to Mr. McMaster.[2]

In his opinion, the ALJ he determined that Mr. McMaster suffered from the severe impairments of "degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; status post non ST elevation myocardial infarction; coronary artery disease, status post coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) x 3; obesity; and diabetes mellitus, " but that none of those impairments met or equaled in severity a Listed Impairment, and that he retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work, with certain limitations.[3]

Based on the testimony provided by the vocational expert present for Mr. McMaster's hearing, the ALJ then determined that, given the extent of his residual functional capacity, Mr. McMaster cannot perform his past relevant work, but can perform other jobs that exist within the national and local economies.[4] Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Mr. McMaster is not disabled within the meaning of the applicable laws and regulations.

Mr. McMaster timely appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, which affirmed the decision of the ALJ. He then timely appealed to this court

II.

In reaching a determination regarding a claimant's disability, an ALJ is required to perform a five-step sequential evaluation process. If the ALJ is able to find that a claimant either is or is not disabled at a particular step, he must not go on to the next step. The five steps are as follows:

(1) At the first step, the ALJ consider the claimant's work activity, if any. If the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity, he is not disabled.
(2) At the second step, the ALJ consider the medical severity of the claimant's impairments. If there exists no severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment (or combination of impairments) that meets the duration requirement, the claimant is not disabled.
(3) At the third step, the ALJ also considers the medical severity of the claimant's impairments. If the claimant has an impairment that meets or equals one listed in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App 1, and meets the duration requirement, the ALJ must find that the claimant is disabled and no further evaluation is necessary.

Before the ALJ goes from step three to step four, he must assess the claimant's residual functional capacity, which the ALJ then must use at both step four and step five ...


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