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Arnold v. Colvin

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

April 14, 2015

BARRY ARNOLD, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOSEPH M. HOOD, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon cross-motions for Summary Judgment [DE 12, 13] on Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner's denial of her application for disability insurance benefits. [Tr. 8-21].[1] 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. 14]. Under step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's intermittent explosive disorder, mild visual disturbances due to photosensitivity, status-post myocardial infarctions, and history of substance abuse were "severe" as defined by the agency's regulations. [Tr. 14]; 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. 14-16]. After further review of the record, the ALJ concluded at step four that Plaintiff had a residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations:

He has a good ability to follow work rules. He has a fair ability to relate to co-workers, deal with the public, use judgment, interact with supervisors, and deal with work stresses. He has a good ability to function independently. He has a fair to good ability to maintain attention and concentration, and make performance adjustments, understand, remember, and carry out complex job instructions. He has a good ability to understand, remember, and carry out detailed but not complex job instructions and simple instructions. He has [sic] good ability to maintain his personal appearance. He has a fair ability to behave in an emotionally stable manner, to relate predictably in social situations, and demonstrate reliability. He would work best in a non-public setting, and would not work well with large numbers of people such as customer service jobs. His job would be performed best in a casual, non-confrontational work setting. The claimant's mild visual disturbance due to photosensitivity will still allow the claimant to work in indoor settings with controlled light, but he should avoid prolonged exposure to bright sunlight. [Tr. 16].

The ALJ found that Plaintiff was able to perform his past relevant work as a material handler and machine operator. [Tr. 22]. Thus, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is not ...


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