United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
KIMBERLY M. GUPTON PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
King, United States District Court Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's complaint
seeking judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
of the final decision of the Commissioner denying her claim
for Social Security disability benefits. The fact and law
summaries of Plaintiff and Defendant are at Dockets 13 and
16. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the
undersigned Magistrate Judge to determine this case, with any
appeal lying before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Docket 11 .
the administrative law judge's (ALJ's) decision was
supported by substantial evidence in the administrative
record and was in accord with applicable legal standards, the
Court will AFFIRM the Commissioner's final decision and
DISMISS Plaintiff's complaint.
facts and procedural history
August 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for disability
insurance benefits. She alleges that she became disabled on
March 1, 2013.
Plaintiff suffers, among other things, from cervical
degenerative disc disease with history of discectomy and
fusion procedure, lumbar degenerative disc disease, thoracic
ankyloses, and kyphosis. Administrative Record (AR), p. 50.
x-ray of the lumbar spine from May 2014 was interpreted by
Kara Gilkey, M.D., as showing “degenerative changes
particularly L2-3.” AR, p. 384.
October 2015, Plaintiff was examined at the request of the
Commissioner by Edgar Lopez- Suescum, M.D. Dr.
Lopez-Suescum's narrative report is at AR, pp. 409-413.
January 2015, based in part on the findings of Drs. Gilkey
and Lopez-Suescum, the non- examining state-agency program
physician, Donna Sadler, completed (or signed off on) a
Physical Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Assessment,
indicating that Plaintiff is able to perform a limited range
of light work. AR, pp. 147-149, 154.
of the lumbar spine from July 2015 was interpreted by Jason
White, M.D., as showing “multi-level hypertrophic
discogenic disease, most significant at ¶ 12-L1 where
there is a large disc herniation resulting in mild central
stenosis.” AR, p. 554.
September 2015 (after the administrative hearing in August
2015), Plaintiff obtained a consultative report from
neurosurgeon Vaughan Allen, M.D. Physical examination
revealed essentially normal findings except Plaintiff has
“1 knee, absent ankle, ” which Plaintiff
interprets to mean that she exhibited “diminished
reflex in the knee and absent reflex in the ankle.” AR,
p. 626; Docket 13, p. 4. Dr. Allen's impression was low
back pain and radicular leg pain. AR, p. 626. His plan was
epidural steroid injections (ESIs). Id. His
interpretation of the July 2015 MRI was that Plaintiff has
“pretty significant multilevel degenerative disc
disease with varying degrees of foraminal pathology and some
degree of canal narrowing.” AR, p. 625. He did not
offer an opinion concerning Plaintiff's RFC.
found that, although she cannot perform her past relevant
work, Plaintiff retains the ability to perform a significant
number of light jobs in the national economy. AR, p. 61. In
finding that Plaintiff has an RFC for light work, the ALJ
gave “great weight” to Dr. Sadler's RFC
Assessment. AR, p. 56. In giving “great weight”
to Dr. Sadler's RFC, the ALJ observed that the
“objective findings [including the x-ray and MRI
findings] have generally been mild.” Id.
the ALJ found that a significant number of jobs are available
in the national economy “even if [Plaintiff is] limited
to sedentary work” and “even if [she is] limited
to no forward reaching.” AR, p. 61.
argument identifies, at ...