United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Pikeville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
JOSEPH M. HOOD, Senior District Judge.
This matter is before the Court upon cross-motions for summary judgment (DE 10, 11) on Plaintiff's appeal, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the Commissioner's denial of his application for disability insurance benefits. The Court, having reviewed the record and the parties' motions, will deny Plaintiff's motion and grant Defendant's motion.
The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), conducts a five-step analysis to determine disability:
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 & Human 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.
Plaintiff, was 43 years old as of the ALJ's October 11, 2012, hearing decision, can understand English, and has a limited education (Tr. 21, 183, 187, 189). Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as an outside mining laborer and gas line and well maintenance laborer (Tr. 20, 57, 189, 197-205). Plaintiff filed for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits, alleging an onset date of March 29, 2010, with a protective filing date of January 1, 2011 (Tr. 13, 164-67, 183). After Plaintiff's claim was denied at the initial and reconsideration levels (Tr. 62, 76), a hearing was held on July 25, 2012 (Tr. 27-61). Following that hearing, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had severe impairments of diabetes mellitus with neuropathy into the left lower extremity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), internal derangement of the left knee, Charcot's disease, and morbid obesity (Tr. 15-16, Finding No. 4). The ALJ found Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled a listing (Tr. 16-17, Finding No. 5).
After a careful evaluation of all the evidence of record, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the RFC to perform sedentary work with no pushing, pulling, or operating foot controls with the left lower extremity; no climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; no more than occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, and climbing ramps and stairs; no concentrated exposure to wetness; not even moderate exposure to extreme cold, extreme heat, humidity, poorly ventilated areas, hazards such as moving machinery or unprotected heights, and irritants such as fumes, odors, dust, and gases; and no exposure to excessive vibration (Tr. 17-20, Finding No. 6). The ALJ then found Plaintiff could not return to his past relevant work (Tr. 20-21, Finding No. 7). Relying on vocational expert (VE) testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff could do other work that existed in the national economy (Tr. 21-22, Finding No. 11; 56-60). The ALJ thus found Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 22, Finding No. 12).
In an October 11, 2012, hearing decision, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's claim (Tr. 10-26). On November 6, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6). Plaintiff now seeks judicial review of the ...