United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
APRIL R. SMITH, Plaintiff.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
KAREN K. CALDWELL, Chief District Judge.
This matter is before the Court for consideration of cross-motions for summary judgment. (DE 12; DE 15). Plaintiff April R. Smith brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial relief of an administrative decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). The Court, having reviewed the record, will affirm the Commissioner's decision as it is supported by substantial evidence and was decided by the proper legal standards.
I. OVERVIEW OF THE PROCESS
The Social Security Act and corresponding regulations provide a five-step sequential process for determining whether a claimant has a compensable disability. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4); see also Rabbers v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 582 F.3d 647, 652 (6th Cir. 2009) (describing the administrative process). The five steps, in summary, are as follows:
1) If the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, the claimant is not disabled.
2) If the claimant does not have a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment-i.e., an impairment that significantly limits his or her physical or mental ability to do basic work activities-the claimant is not disabled.
3) If the claimant has a severe impairment(s) that meets or equals one of the listings in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of the regulations and meets the duration requirement, the claimant is disabled.
4) If the claimant's impairment does not prevent him or her from doing his or her past relevant work, the claimant is not disabled.
5) If the claimant can make an adjustment to other work, the claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot make an adjustment to other work, the claimant is disabled.
Rabbers, 582 F.3d at 652 (citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v), 404.1520(b)-(g)). If, at any step in the process, the administrative law judge ("ALJ") concludes that the claimant is or is not disabled, then the ALJ can complete the "determination or decision and [the ALJ] do[es] not go on to the next step." 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4).
The claimant bears the burden of proof through the first four steps of the analysis; and, at step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner. Johnson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 652 F.3d 646, 651 (6th Cir. 2011). The claimant must, in order to satisfy his burden of proof, provide sufficient facts to find in his favor. Wright-Hines v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 597 F.3d 392, 396 (6th Cir. 2010).
II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
Smith filed her claim for DIB and SSI on November 9, 2010, alleging an onset date of July 17, 2009. (Tr. at 179, 190.) The agency denied her application initially and on reconsideration. (Tr. at 75, 88, 102, 114.) Smith requested review by an ALJ, and the ALJ held a hearing on July 18, 2012. (Tr. at 25-63.) The ALJ subsequently issued an unfavorable decision on October 23, 2012. (Tr. at 11-19.)
At the time the ALJ rendered his decision, Smith was thirty-one years old. She has completed her GED and has specialized training as a "para educator." (Tr. at 239-40.) Smith previously worked as a cashier, a housekeeper, a nurse's aide, and temporary worker at a paint warehouse. (Tr. at 31, 240.) She alleges disability due to a back condition and ...