United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOSEPH M. HOOD, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court upon cross-motions for Summary Judgment [D.E. 15, 16] on Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner's denial of his application for supplemental security income. [Tr. 17-25]. The Court, having reviewed the record and being otherwise sufficiently advised, will deny Plaintiff's motion and grant Defendant's motion.
I. Overview of the Process and the Instant Matter
The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), in determining disability, conducts a five-step analysis:
1. An individual who is working and engaging in substantial gainful activity is not disabled, regardless of the claimant's medical condition.
2. An individual who is working but does not have a "severe" impairment which significantly limits his physical or mental ability to do basic work activities is not disabled.
3. If an individual is not working and has a severe impairment which "meets the duration requirement and is listed in appendix 1 or is equal to a listed impairment(s)", then he is disabled regardless of other factors.
4. If a decision cannot be reached based on current work activity and medical facts alone, and the claimant has a severe impairment, then the Secretary reviews the claimant's residual functional capacity and the physical and mental demands of the claimant's previous work. If the claimant is able to continue to do this previous work, then he is not disabled.
5. If the claimant cannot do any work he did in the past because of a severe impairment, then the Secretary considers his residual functional capacity, age, education, and past work experience to see if he can do other work. If he cannot, the claimant is disabled.
Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Hum. Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520 (1982)). "The burden of proof is on the claimant throughout the first four steps of this process to prove that he is disabled." Id. "If the analysis reaches the fifth step without a finding that the claimant is not disabled, the burden transfers to the Secretary." Id.
In the instant matter, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the relevant time period under step one. [Tr. 19]. Under step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's inguinal hernia and history of lupus with Reynaud's phenomenon, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obesity, and history of polysubstance abuse were "severe" as defined by the agency's regulations. [Tr. 19]; 20 CFR § 416.920(c).
During step three of the analysis, the ALJ considered all of Plaintiff's impairments and decided that none of them met the criteria listed in 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1. [Tr. 20-21]. After further review of the record, the ALJ concluded at step four that Plaintiff had a residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, but was limited to simple instructions and tasks in a non-public setting with no more than casual, infrequent contact with co-workers and supervisors. [Tr. 21]. Plaintiff was additionally limited in that any work performed by Plaintiff would have to accommodate her marginal education. [Tr. 21].
The ALJ found that Plaintiff had no past relevant work. [Tr. 24]. However, there were jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. [Tr. 24]. Thus, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is not disabled under the Social Security Act. [Tr. 25].
On this appeal, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by failing to adopt a prior 1993 finding in favor of the Plaintiff, that the ALJ failed to incorporate all of Plaintiff's limitations in the residual functional capacity finding and subsequent hypothetical to the vocational ...