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Carrington v. Colvin

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

July 1, 2015

MELVIN MARION CARRINGTON Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.

Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. The Court, having reviewed the record and for reasons set forth herein, hereby reverses and remands the Commissioner's decision.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Melvin Marion Carrington protectively filed his current application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") and Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") payments, alleging disability as of August 1, 2010. (Tr. 136-39). Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Tr. 83-90). On July 25, 2012, Administrative Law Judge Roger L. Reynolds conducted an administrative hearing at Plaintiff's request. (Tr. 30-59). ALJ Reynolds ruled that Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits on August 9, 2012. (Tr. 17-29). This decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied review on August 21, 2013. (Tr. 11-15).

On October 29, 2013, Plaintiff filed the instant action. (Doc. # 1). This matter has culminated in cross motions for summary judgment, which are now ripe for the Court's review. (Docs. # 16 and 17).[1]

II. DISCUSSION

A. Overview of the Process

Judicial review of the Commissioner's decision is restricted to determining whether it is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards. See Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). "Substantial evidence" is defined as "more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Id. Courts are not to conduct a de novo review, resolve conflicts in the evidence, or make credibility determinations. Id. Rather, we are to affirm the Commissioner's decision, provided it is supported by substantial evidence, even if we might have decided the case differently. See Her v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d 388, 389-90 (6th Cir. 1999).

The ALJ, in determining disability, conducts a five-step analysis. Step 1 considers whether the claimant is still performing substantial gainful activity; Step 2, whether any of the claimant's impairments are "severe"; Step 3, whether the impairments meet or equal a listing in the Listing of Impairments; Step 4, whether the claimant can still perform his past relevant work; and Step 5, whether significant numbers of other jobs exist in the national economy which the claimant can perform. As to the last step, the burden of proof shifts from the claimant to the Commissioner. See Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003); Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).

B. The ALJ's Determination

At Step 1, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date. (Tr. 22). At Step 2, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has two severe impairments: (1) coronary artery disease, status post-PTCA (percutaneous transluminary coronary angioplasty) with stents, followed by coronary artery bypass graft of the left anterior descending artery; and (2) chronic stable angina. ( Id. ).

At Step 3, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments listed in, or medically equal to, an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 23). At Step 4, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a full range of light work:

Light work is defined at 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) as involving lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds. Even though the weight lifted may be very little, a job is in this category when it requires a good deal of walking or standing, or when it involves sitting most of the time with some pushing and pulling of arm or leg controls. To be considered capable of performing a full or wide range of light work, a person must have the ability to do substantially all of these activities. If someone case do light work, we determine that he or she can also do sedentary work, unless there are additional limiting factors such as loss of fine dexterity or inability to sit for long periods of time.

( Id. ). The ALJ further noted that Plaintiff is unable to perform past relevant work. (Tr. 25).

Accordingly, the ALJ proceeded to the final step of the sequential evaluation. ( Id. ). At Step 5, the ALJ found that, because "the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light and sedentary work, a finding of not disabled' is ...


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