United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
L. Bunning United States District Judge.
brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)
and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of an administrative
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. The Court,
having reviewed the record and for the reasons set forth
herein, will affirm the Commissioner's decision.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)
on July 22, 2013, alleging disability beginning May 25, 2013.
(Tr. 10). Plaintiff's application for DIB was denied on
October 22, 2013. Id. Plaintiff appealed, and his
Request for Reconsideration was denied on January 22, 2014.
Id. Plaintiff then filed a Request for Hearing by
Administrative Law Judge. Id. On April 14, 2015,
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Don C. Paris ruled that
Plaintiff was not entitled to DIB. Id. The decision
became final on May 14, 2016, when the Appeals Council denied
review of Plaintiff's claim. (Tr. 3-6). On June 28, 2016,
Plaintiff filed suit in this Court. (Doc. # 2). The parties
then filed Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment, which are now
ripe for review. (Docs. # 13 & 15).
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 of 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 must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is
supported by substantial evidence even if the Court might
have decided the case differently, Her v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d 388, 389-90 (6th Cir. 1999), and
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 past relevant
work; and Step Five, whether a significant number of other
jobs exist in the national economy that the claimant can
perform. For 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 May 25, 2013, the alleged
onset date. (Tr. 12). At Step Two, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: history of
compression fractures of the thoracic and lumbar spine, and
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine. Id.
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. 14).
Four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff possesses the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform medium work, as defined
in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(c), with the following
[Plaintiff] can lift and carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25
pounds frequently. He can stand/walk six hours, and walk six
hours, out of an eight-hour workday. He can climb ramps,
stairs, ladders, ropes, or scaffolds no more often than
frequently. He should avoid concentrated exposure to
(Tr. 14-20). Based upon this RFC and relying on the testimony
of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff
was unable to perform his past relevant work as a maintenance
worker/janitor or construction worker. (Tr. 20).
proceeded to Step 5 and found that there were a significant
number of jobs in the national economy that Plaintiff could
perform. (Tr. 20-21). In making this conclusion, the ALJ
asked the VE whether jobs existed in the national economy for
an individual of claimant's age, education, work
experience, and RFC. Id. The VE testified that
Plaintiff could find work at the medium exertional level as a
laundry worker (1, 000 jobs in Kentucky, 60, 000 nationally),
hand packer (15, 000 jobs in Kentucky, 1, 165, 000
nationally), or bagger (2, 000 jobs in the state, 160, 000
nationally). Id. Based on these findings, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff was ...