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Bradley v. Colvin

United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington

March 19, 2015

MARY BETH BRADLEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN COLVIN, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Henry R. Wilhoit, Jr., United States District Judge

Plaintiff has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) to challenge a final decision of the Defendant denying Plaintiffs application for disability insurance benefits. The Court having reviewed the record in this case and the dispositive motions filed by the parties, and being otherwise sufficiently advised, for the reasons set forth herein, finds that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge is supported by substantial evidence and should be affirmed.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed her current application for disability insurance benefits on Decwember3, 2008, alleging disability beginning on July 15, 2006, due to "bi-polar, congenital disc disease, irritable bowel syndrome, back pain and depression" (Tr. 312). This application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Thereafter, three administrative hearing was conducted by Administrative Law Judge Deborah Smith (hereinafter "ALJ"), wherein Plaintiff, accompanied by counsel, testified. At the hearing, Howard Caston, a vocational expert (hereinafter "VE"), also testified.

At the hearing, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.920, the ALJ performed the following five-step sequential analysis in order to determine whether the Plaintiff was disabled:

Step 1: If the claimant is performing substantial gainful work, lie is not disabled,
Step 2: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work, his impairment(s) must be severe before he can be found to be disabled based upon the requirements in 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(b).
Step 3: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work and has a severe impairment (or impairments) that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and his impairments (or impairments) meets or medically equals a listed impairment contained in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4, the claimant is disabled without further inquiry.
Step 4: If the claimant's impairment (or impairments) does not prevent him from doing his past relevant work, he is not disabled.
Step 5: Even if the claimant's impairment or impairments prevent him from performing his past relevant work, if other work exists in significant numbers in the national economy that accommodates his residual functional capacity and vocational factors, he is not disabled.

The ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 8-25).

Plaintiff was forty-six years of age on her alleged onset date and fifty-two years of age the date of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 36, 295, 307), She had at least a high school education, and her past relevant work included work as an administrative clerk (Tr. 39-42, 85-86, 312-14, 318-19, 330-38, 383-84, 392-93, 396).

At Step 1, the ALJ noted that Plaintiff had worked after her alleged onset date, but found her work did not rise to the level of substantial gainful activity (Tr. 13). At Step 2, the ALJ found Plaintiff had severe impairments of right shoulder rotator cuff tear, degenerative disc disease, a history of pancreatitis, depression, and a history of polysubstance abuse (Tr. 13). At Step 3, the ALJ found Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled a listed impairment (Tr. 14). The ALJ then found Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform medium work, i.e., she could limit fifty pounds occasionally and twenty-five pounds frequently, with the same push/pull restrictions; stand and/or walk six hours in an eight-hour workday; and sit six hours in an eight-hour workday (Tr. 15). The ALJ also found Plaintiff could frequently climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; could occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; was limited to occasional overhead reaching with her right upper extremity; needed to avoid concentrated exposure to vibration; and was limited to simple to moderately complex tasks that involved only superficial contact with the public and co-workers (Tr, 15). Given Plaintiffs RFC, the demands of her former work, and the testimony of the vocational expert (VE), the ALJ found at Step 4 that Plaintiff could perform her past relevant work as an administrative clerk (Tr. 23-24, 86-88). The ALJ also made an alternative finding at the 5th and final step that Plaintiff could perform other jobs identified by the VE, even if she was limited to sedentary work (Tr. 24-25, 89-90). The ALJ, therefore, concluded Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 25).

The Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for review and adopted the ALJ's decision as the final decision of the Commissioner . Plaintiff thereafter filed this civil action seeking a reversal of the Commissioner's decision, Both parties have filed Motions for Summary ...


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