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Turner v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

May 18, 2017

JAMES DAVID TURNER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY J. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH M. HOOD JUDGE

         This 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.[1] The matter having been fully briefed by the parties is now ripe for this Court's review.

         I.

         In determining whether an individual is disabled, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) uses a five step analysis:

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 not disabled.
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 factors.
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. § 404.1520(1982)). The ALJ in this case completed this five-step analysis, as described below.

         II.

         On May 30, 2013, Plaintiff protectively filed a Title II application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). [TR 47]. He also protectively filed a Title XVI application for supplemental security income (“SSI”) on that date. [TR 47]. In both applications, Plaintiff alleged disability beginning May 1, 2013. [TR 47]. Plaintiff's claims were denied initially and on reconsideration. [TR 47]. On February 19, 2015, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Bonnie Kittinger issued a written decision, denying Plaintiff's claim for benefits after holding hearing on January 7, 2015. [TR 23-35].

         At Step One of the disability determination process, ALJ Kittinger found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date. [TR 49]. At Step Two, she concluded that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: residuals from pulmonary embolism and left lower extremity deep vein thrombosis, status post left leg trauma, anxiety and affective disorder. [TR 49-50].

         At Step Three, ALJ Kittinger explained that Plaintiff “does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.” [TR 50]. ALJ Kittinger found that Plaintiff “has not had obstruction of a deep vein at [the] level of severity” described in Listing 4.11 of Appendix 1, nor does the “severity of the claimant's mental impairments, considered singly and in combination, ” meet “the criteria of listing 12.04 or 12.06.” [TR 50-1]. The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff had “repeated ...


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