United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is pending for consideration of cross-motions for
summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Lois Jane Cawood
(hereafter, “the plaintiff” or
“Cawood”) and Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“the Commissioner.”) [Record Nos. 13, 14] Cawood
argues that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
erred in concluding that she was not disabled within the
meaning of the Social Security Act. Specifically, she asserts
that the ALJ failed to properly consider the opinion of her
treating physician and to properly evaluate her credibility.
Cawood requests an award of benefits in her favor or,
alternatively, that the matter be remanded for further
administrative proceedings. The Commissioner contends the ALJ
properly evaluated the evidence of record and that the
ALJ's decision should be affirmed. She further contends
that the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial
reasons that follow, the plaintiff's motion will be
granted and this matter will be remanded for further
filed a Title II application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits, (“DIB”) on October
26, 2012, alleging an onset of disability of December 30,
2011. [Administrative Transcript, hereinafter “Tr.,
” 21] After being denied benefits initially and on
reconsideration in 2013, Cawood requested an administrative
hearing before an ALJ. Id. On October 7, 2014,
Cawood appeared before ALJ Tommye C. Mangus in London,
Kentucky. Id. ALJ Mangus found that Cawood had
severe impairments of fibromyalgia, prolapsed bladder, major
depressive disorder (chronic, mild), dysthymic disorder, and
anxiety disorder. Id. at 23. ALJ Mangus determined,
however, that Cawood did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of a listed impairment. Id. at 24 (citing
20 C.F.R. §§ 1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526).
considering the entire record, the ALJ determined that Cawood
had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work, as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(b), except she could not climb ladders, ropes or
scaffolds and could perform no more than occasional kneeling,
crouching, crawling or climbing of ramps and stairs. The ALJ
also determined that Cawood should avoid concentrated
exposure to vibration and workplace hazards. Next, the ALJ
found that Cawood was able to understand, remember and carry
out simple instructions and tasks, and tolerate occasional,
gradually introduced changes in the workplace. Id.
at 26. The ALJ determined that, although Cawood was unable to
perform her past relevant work as a bookkeeper or accounts
clerk, there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the
national economy that Cawood was able to perform.
Id. at 29. Specifically, the ALJ found that Cawood
could work as a ticket taker, an office helper, and a
mailroom clerk. Id. at 30. Accordingly, the ALJ
determined that she had not been under a disability through
December 30, 2011. Id.
the Social Security Act, a “disability” is
defined as “the inability to engage in
‘substantial gainful activity' because of a
medically determinable physical or mental impairment of at
least one year's expected duration.” Cruse v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 502 F.3d 532, 539 (6th Cir.
2007) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)). A
claimant's Social Security disability determination is
made by an ALJ in accordance with “a five-step
‘sequential evaluation process.'” Combs
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 459 F.3d 640, 642 (6th Cir.
2006) (en banc). If the claimant satisfies the first four
steps of the process, the burden shifts to the Commissioner
with respect to the fifth step. See Jones v. Comm'r
of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003).
claimant must first demonstrate that she is not engaged in
substantial gainful employment at the time of the disability
application. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b). Second, the
claimant must show that she suffers from a severe impairment
or a combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(c). Third, if the claimant is not engaged in
substantial gainful employment and has a severe impairment
which is expected to last for at least twelve months and
which meets or equals a listed impairment, she will be
considered disabled without regard to age, education, and
work experience. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d). Fourth, if the
claimant has a severe impairment but the Commissioner cannot
make a determination of the disability based on medical
evaluations and current work activity, the Commissioner will
review the claimant's residual functional activity
(“RFC”) and relevant past work to determine
whether she can perform her past work. If she can, she is not
disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(f).
the fifth step of the analysis, if the claimant's
impairments prevent her from doing past work, the
Commissioner will consider her RFC, age, education, and past
work experience to determine whether she can perform other
work. If she cannot perform other work, the Commissioner will
find the claimant disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g).
“The Commissioner has the burden of proof only on
‘the fifth step, proving that there is work available
in the economy that the claimant can perform.'”
White v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 312 F. App'x
779, 785 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Her v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d 388, 391 (6th Cir. 1999)).
reviewing a denial of Social Security benefits must only
determine whether the ALJ's findings were supported by
substantial evidence and whether the correct legal standards
were applied. Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486
F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is such
relevant evidence as reasonable minds might accept as
sufficient to support the conclusion. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Bass v.
McMahon, 499 F.3d 506, 509 (6th Cir. 2007). The
Commissioner's findings are conclusive if they are
supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
the plaintiff alleged some psychological impairments, her
appeal focuses on the ALJ's disposition regarding her
claims of physical pain and disability. The pertinent medical
evidence of record is summarized as follows:
Naushad Haziq performed a consultative examination on
February 7, 2013. [Tr. 328] Dr. Haziq noted that Cawood
appeared comfortable while seated and supine. While Cawood
had no movement limitation, she reported pain during all
movements. The examination was otherwise unremarkable, except
that Cawood demonstrated “eight paired points and four
control point tenderness for ...