United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
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
October 23, 2012, Plaintiff Lisa Taylor applied for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), alleging
disability beginning on October 1, 2011. (Tr. 16, 167-68).
Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that she is unable to work
due to “chronic major depression” and
“generalized anxiety and major chronic
depression.” (Tr. 187).
application was denied initially and again on
reconsideration. (Tr. 104, 109). At Plaintiff's request,
an administrative hearing was conducted on July 23, 2015,
before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Steven
Collins. (Tr. 32-76). On September 24, 2015, ALJ Collins
ruled that Plaintiff was not entitled to disability benefits.
(Tr. 13-31). This decision became final when the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on August
22, 2016. (Tr. 1-4). Plaintiff filed the instant action on
October 14, 2016. (Doc. # 1). The matter has culminated in
cross-motions for summary judgment, which are now ripe for
adjudication. (Docs. # 10 and 12).
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 had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity from her alleged onset date of
October 1, 2011 through her date last insured of March 31,
2014. (Tr. 18). At Step Two, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: depression
and anxiety disorder. (Tr. 18). 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. 19).
Four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff possesses the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full
range of work at all exertional levels but with the following
[Plaintiff] is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive
tasks in a work environment free of fast-paced production
requirements. Her work should involve only simple,
work-related decisions with few, if any, workplace changes.
She can have occasional contact with co-workers, supervisors,
and the public.
(Tr. 21). Based upon this RFC, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was not able to perform past relevant work. (Tr.
24). 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. 25).
Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not under a
disability, as defined ...