United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
DEWEY L. PEGGS PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
L. Bunning United States District Judge
brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to
obtain judicial review of an administrative decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security. The Court, having reviewed
the record and the parties' dispositive motions, and for
the reasons set forth herein, hereby affirms the decision of
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
September 26, 2013, Plaintiff Dewey Peggs applied for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), alleging
disability beginning on February 1, 2013. (Tr. 129, 261).
Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that he is unable to work due
to degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel, numbness in arms
and hands, hip pain, hearing loss, and memory loss. (Tr.
application was denied initially and again on
reconsideration. (Tr. 185, 186). At Plaintiff's request,
an administrative hearing was conducted on August 3, 2015,
before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Diana
Erickson. (Tr. 141-173). On August 28, 2015, ALJ Erickson
ruled that Plaintiff was not entitled to disability benefits.
(Tr. 126-140). This decision became final when the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on
September 20, 2016. (Tr. 1-7). Plaintiff filed the instant
action on October 27, 2016. (Doc. # 2). The matter has
culminated in cross-motions for summary judgment, which are
now ripe for adjudication. (Docs. # 11 and 13).
Overview of the Process
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
Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 729 (6th Cir. 2007).
“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.” Cutlip
v. Sec'y Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286
(6th Cir. 1994). Courts are not to conduct a de novo
review, resolve conflicts in the evidence, or make
credibility determinations. Id. Rather, the court is
required to affirm the Commissioner's decision, as long
as it is supported by substantial evidence, even if it might
have decided the case differently. Her v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d 388, 389-90 (6th Cir. 1999). If
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
findings must be affirmed, even if there is evidence favoring
Plaintiff's side. Listenbee v. Sec'y of Health
& Human Servs., 846 F.2d 345, 349 (6th Cir. 1988).
Similarly, an administrative decision is not subject to
reversal merely because substantial evidence would have
supported the opposite conclusion. Smith v. Chater,
99 F.3d 780, 781-82 (6th Cir. 1996).
determine disability, the ALJ conducts a five-step analysis.
Step One considers whether the claimant can still perform
substantial gainful activity; Step Two, whether any of the
claimant's impairments, alone or in combination, are
“severe;” Step Three, whether the impairments
meet or equal a listing in the Listing of Impairments; Step
Four, whether the claimant can still perform her past
relevant work; and Step Five, whether a significant number of
other jobs exist in the national economy that the claimant
can perform. As to the last step, the burden of proof shifts
from the claimant to the Commissioner to identify “jobs
in the economy that accommodate [Plaintiff's] residual
functional capacity.” See Jones v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003); see
also Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.,
14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).
The ALJ's Determination
One, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date of
February 1, 2013. (Tr. 131). At Step Two, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease and bulging of the lumbar spine.
(Tr. 131). At Step Three, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff
does not have an impairment or combination of impairments
that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments
in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 132).
Four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff possesses the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work
as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b), but that he
“can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; can
frequently climb stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and
crawl; and should avoid concentrated exposure to noise and
vibration.” (Tr. 132). Based upon this RFC, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff was not able to perform past
relevant work. (Tr. 135). Accordingly, the ALJ proceeded to
Step Five, and found that considering Plaintiff's age,
education, work experience, and RFC, jobs existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 135-36). Therefore, the ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff was not under a disability, as defined in the
Social Security Act, from the alleged onset date through the
date of the decision. (Tr. 136).
alleges three errors in the hearing decision and asks this
Court to reverse the disability determination. Specifically,
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in failing to give
greater weight to Dr. Dye's medical source statement,
that the ALJ erred in failing to give great consideration to
Plaintiff's own testimony and erroneously attempted to
erode his ...