United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division
WALTER A. HARDIN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Hardin seeks judicial review of an administrative decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security, which denied
Hardin's claims for supplemental security income benefits
and disability insurance benefits. Mr. Hardin brings this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), alleging various
errors on the part of the ALJ considering the matter. The
Court, having reviewed the record and for the reasons set
forth herein, will DENY Mr. Hardin's motion for summary
judgment but will GRANT judgment in favor of the
Walter A. Hardin filed an application for Title II disability
insurance benefits and Title XVI supplemental social security
in May 2013, alleging disability beginning January 1, 2011.
[Transcript (hereinafter, “Tr.”) 65.]
Hardin's motion for summary judgment explains that Hardin
suffers from degenerative disc disease and various pulmonary
problems, including recurring hemoptysis, a history of
pulmonary embolism, and ongoing complications from his
lobectomy like post-thoracotomy syndrome. [R. 8.]
Hardin's claims for Title II and Title XVI benefits were
denied initially and upon reconsideration. [Tr. 65.]
Subsequently, a hearing was conducted upon Hardin's
request. [Id.] Following the hearing, ALJ Bonnie
Kittinger issued a final decision denying both of
Hardin's claims for benefits. [Tr. 65-77.]
evaluate a claim of disability for both Title II disability
insurance benefit claims and Title XVI supplemental security
income claims, an ALJ conducts a five-step analysis.
Compare 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520 (disability
insurance benefit claims) with 20 C.F.R. §
416.920 (supplemental security income claims). First, if a
claimant is performing a substantial gainful activity, he is
not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b). Second, if a
claimant does not have any impairment or combination of
impairments which significantly limit his physical or mental
ability to do basic work activities, he does not have a
severe impairment and is not “disabled” as
defined by the regulations. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c).
Third, if a claimant's impairments meet or equal one of
the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1, he is “disabled.” 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(d). Before moving on to the fourth step, the ALJ
must use all of the relevant evidence in the record to
determine the claimant's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), which assesses an individual's
ability to perform certain physical and mental work
activities on a sustained basis despite any impairment
experienced by the individual. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(e); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545.
the ALJ must determine whether the clamant has the RFC to
perform the requirements of his past relevant work, and if a
claimant's impairments do not prevent him from doing past
relevant work, he is not “disabled.” 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(e). Fifth, if a claimant's impairments
(considering his RFC, age, education, and past work) prevent
him from doing other work that exists in the national
economy, then he is “disabled.” 20 C.F.R. §
step four of the analysis, “the claimant bears the
burden of proving the existence and severity of limitations
caused by her impairments and the fact that she is precluded
from performing her past relevant work.” Jones v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir.
2003). At step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to
identify a significant number of jobs that accommodate the
claimant's profile, but the claimant retains the ultimate
burden of proving his lack of residual functional capacity.
Id.; Jordon v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 548
F.3d 417, 423 (6th Cir. 2008).
outset of the case, the ALJ determined Mr. Hardin meets the
insured requirements of the Social Security Act through
December 31, 2017. [Tr. 67.] Then at step one, the ALJ found
Hardin had engaged in substantial gainful activity from July
10, 2012 through March 9, 2013, but that, since that time,
there had been a continuous twelve month period during which
Hardin did not engage in substantial gainful activity. [Tr.
67-68.] At step two, the ALJ found Hardin suffers from severe
impairments of degenerative disc disease and recurring
hemoptysis, status-post pulmonary embolism. [Tr. 68.] At step
three, the ALJ determined Hardin's combination of
impairments did not meet or medially equal one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404 or Part 416. [Tr. 69.]
Before moving on to step four, the ALJ considered the entire
record and determined Hardin possessed the RFC to perform
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 414.1567(b)
and 416.967(b), with certain limitations described as
[T]he claimant is able to lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally
and ten pounds frequently, and he is able to stand/walk up to
six hours and sit at least six hours in an eight-hour
workday; however, he should be allowed to alternate sitting
and standing at 45-60 minute intervals. He is able to climb
ramps and stairs frequently; stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl
occasionally, but should not climb ladders, ropes or
explaining how she determined Hardin's RFC [see
Tr. 70-75], the ALJ found at step four that, based on this
RFC, Hardin is capable of performing various jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the national economy. [Tr. 76.]
Accordingly, the ALJ concluded Hardin was not disabled under
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g) or 416.920(g). [Tr. 77.]
The Appeals Council denied Hardin's request for review
[Tr. 1], and Hardin now seeks review in this Court.