United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOSEPH M. HOOD, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court upon cross-motions for Summary Judgment [DE 13, 14] on Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner's denial of her application for disability insurance benefits. [Tr. 8-21]. 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.
If an individual is not working and has a severs 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. 103]. Under step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine and lumbar spine were "severe" as defined by the agency's regulations. [Tr. 104]; 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. 106]. After further review of the record, the ALJ concluded at step four that Plaintiff had a residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work except that Plaintiff could only occasionally climb stairs or ladders, kneel, stoop, crouch, balance, and crawl, and is limited to only occasional exposure to cold extremes, humidity, wetness, and vibrations. [Tr. 106].
The ALJ found that Plaintiff was able to perform her past relevant work as a waitress. [Tr. 112]. Thus, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is not disabled ...