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Biller v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

March 31, 2017

JAMES L. BILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          COLIN LINDSAY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is the complaint (DN 1) of plaintiff James L. Biller (“Biller”) filed on December 11, 2015. In his complaint, Biller seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“the Commissioner”). See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2012) (“Any individual, after any final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security . . . may obtain a review of such decision by a civil action commenced within sixty days after the mailing to him of notice of such decision . . . .”). Biller filed a Fact and Law Summary (DN 10) and accompanying memorandum (DN 10-1) on April 1, 2016. The Commissioner filed a Fact and Law Summary on May 25, 2016 (DN 13).

         The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to enter judgment in this case with direct review by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the event an appeal is filed (See DN 8.) Therefore, this matter is ripe for review. For the reasons set forth below, the final decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Biller filed an application for disability and disability insurance benefits on or about November 23, 2011. (R. 75, 127, 210.) Biller alleged that he became disabled on April 1, 2011 as a result of back pain and back surgery. (R. 214, 254, 256.) Administrative Law Judge D. Lyndell Picket (“the ALJ”) conducted a hearing on May 29, 2014. (Id. at 87.) Biller was present and represented by counsel Michael R. Green. (Id. at 89.) William Harpool, a vocational expert, also testified at the hearing. (Id.) In a decision dated June 10, 2014, the ALJ engaged in the five-step evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner to determine whether an individual is disabled. In doing so, the ALJ made the following findings.

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on March 30, 2012.[1]
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from his alleged onset date of April 1, 2011, through his date last insured of March 30, 2012.
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairment: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine.
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. That, through the date last inured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a) except that he needs a sit/stand option every 30 minutes along with 1-5 minutes to change positions from sitting to standing and vice versa (along with normal breaks and lunch). The claimant is limited to occasionally climbing ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling. He should avoid concentrated exposure to vibration secondary to complaints of back pain due to degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born on October 27, 1962 and was 49 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 45-49, on the date last insured.
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills.
10. Through the date last insured, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could have performed.
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from April 1, 2011, the alleged onset date, through March ...

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