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Bailey v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

January 31, 2015

JAMES DWIGHT BAILEY, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defedent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.

Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. The Court, having reviewed the record, will affirm the Commissioner's decision, as it is supported by substantial evidence.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff James Dwight Bailey, Jr. filed his current application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) payments, alleging disability as of September 15, 2010. (Tr. 183-195). Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Tr. 82-103, 104-29). On August 8, 2012, Administrative Law Judge Roger L. Reynolds held an administrative hearing at Plaintiff's request. (Tr. 30-81). On November 19, 2012, ALJ Reynolds ruled that Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits. (Tr. 13-29). This decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied review on January 16, 2014. (Tr. 1-7).

On March 19, 2014, Plaintiff filed the instant action. (Doc. # 1). This matter has culminated in cross-motions for summary judgment, which are now ripe for review. (Docs. # 16 and 17).

II. DISCUSSION

A. Overview of the Process

Judicial review of the Commissioner's decision is restricted to determining whether it is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards. See Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). "Substantial evidence" is defined as "more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Id. Courts are not to conduct a de novo review, resolve conflicts in the evidence, or make credibility determinations. See id. Rather, we are to affirm the Commissioner's decision, provided it is supported by substantial evidence, even if we might have decided the case differently. See Her v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d 388, 389-90 (6th Cir. 1999).

The ALJ, in determining disability, conducts a five-step analysis. Step 1 considers whether the claimant is still performing substantial gainful activity; Step 2, whether any of the claimant's impairments are "severe"; Step 3, whether the impairments meet or equal a listing in the Listing of Impairments; Step 4, whether the claimant can still perform his past relevant work; and Step 5, whether significant numbers of other jobs exist in the national economy which the claimant can perform. As to the last step, the burden of proof shifts from the claimant to the Commissioner. See Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003); Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).

B. The ALJ's Determination

At Step 1, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date. (Tr. 18). At Step 2, the ALJ found Plaintiff's obesity, depression not otherwise specified, personality disorder not otherwise specified, seizure disorder by history, alcohol abuse (allegedly in remission) and borderline intellectual functioning to be severe impairments within the meaning of the regulations. ( Id. ).

At Step 3, the ALJ found that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments listed in, or medically equal to, an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 19). Before reaching this conclusion, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's seizure disorder did not meet the requirements of Listing 11.02 (convulsive epilepsy) or Listing 11.03 (non-convulsive epilepsy) because his "medical records contain no evidence of seizures occurring more frequently than once a month after prescribed treatment." ( Id. ). The ALJ further found that Plaintiff did not meet the requirements of Listing 12.04 (affective disorders), Listing 12.05 (intellectual disability), Listing 12.08 (personality disorders) or Listing 12.09 (substance addiction disorders) because he manages many activities associated with daily living and has no history of decompensation. (Tr. 19-21).

At Step 4, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform a "full range of work at all exertional levels, " subject to the following limitations:

[The claimant] cannot work at heights; never balance; no commercial driving; no work around industrial hazards; no work requiring exposure to concentrated temperature extremes; requires entry level work with simple, repetitive, 1-2-3 step procedures, no frequent changes in work routines, no requirement for detailed or complex problem solving, independent planning or the setting of goals; should work in an object ...

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