United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Hood, Senior U.S. District Judge
matter is before the Court on the parties' cross-Motions
for Summary Judgment (DE 10, 11) on Plaintiff's appeal of
the Commissioner's denial of his application for
disability insurance benefits. The matter having been fully
briefed by the parties is now ripe for this Court's
determining whether an individual is disabled, an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) uses a five step
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
3. If an individual is not working and has a severe
impairment which “meets the duration requirement and is
listed in appendix 1 or equal to a listed
impairment(s)”, then he is disabled regardless of other
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. §
October 2012, Plaintiff protectively applied for disability
insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social
Security Act (Tr. 172-73). See 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-33.1 Plaintiff pursued his claim to a de
novo hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) (Tr.
117-20, 122-24, 129-30), which the ALJ convened in February
2014 (Tr. 42-97). On April 30, 2014, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision (Tr. 25-38). Plaintiff requested review
of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 24, 241-45), which the Appeals
Council denied (Tr. 1-6), making the ALJ's decision the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial
review. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.210(a).
was an individual closely approaching advanced age on the
date of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 52, 172). He has a
twelfth grade education (Tr. 52, 216) and past work
experience as a material handler, color plate handler, and
band saw operator (Tr. 92-93, 178-87, 191-99, 216). He
alleged disability since April 30, 2012 (Tr. 172) due to
arthritis and hypertension (Tr. 214-15, 225-26, 230).
2012, Plaintiff presented to Donald Hamner, M.D., with
complaints that included bilateral knee pain and pain with
walking (Tr. 253-54). Dr. Hamner diagnosed degenerative
arthritis of his knees and hypertension under adequate
control (Tr. 255). In January 2013, Alex Guerrero, M.D., a
state agency psychiatrist, reviewed the evidence and said
Plaintiff did not have a severe mental impairment (Tr.
February 2013, Carlos Hernandez, M.D., a state agency
physician, reviewed the evidence and assessed limitations
consistent with medium work (Tr. 108-16). Two days later,
Plaintiff presented to Jeremy Tarter, M.D., with complaints
that he continued to struggle with both of his knees with
increased debilitation and compromised activities of daily
living (Tr. 306). X-rays showed that he had end stage medial
compartment degenerative changes and surprisingly quite a bit
of patellofemoral degenerative changes with osteophytes (bone
spurs) and loss of clear space (Tr. 306). Plaintiff ...