United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORNDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Atkins United States Magistrate Judge
Gregory Dane Colliver, brings this action under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1383(c)(3) and 405(g) of the Social Security
Act, to challenge the Defendant Commissioner's final
decision denying his application for Disability Insurance
Benefits. [R. 1; R. 11]. Upon consent of the parties, this
matter has been referred to the undersigned to conduct all
proceedings and order the entry of final judgment in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73.
[R. 14; R. 15]. Now ripe for decision on the parties
cross-motions for judgment, and for the reasons set forth
herein, the Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings [R. 11] is DENIED, the Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment [R. 13] is GRANTED, and Judgment will be
entered affirming the final decision of the Defendant
FACTUAL BACKOUND & POCEDUAL HISTORY
filed an application for disability insurance benefits (DIB),
alleging disability beginning on December 9, 2013 due to
chronic back pain. [Tr. 148]. Plaintiffs application was denied
on March 5, 2014 and Plaintiff applied for reconsideration.
[Tr. 92]. The application was again denied on
reconsideration. [Tr. 95]. On May 30, 2014, Plaintiff
requested an ALJ hearing. [Tr. 102]. On May 18, 2015, a
hearing was held before ALJ Ronald M. Kayser. [Tr. 34].
Plaintiff testified, as did Vocational Expert Rob Crystal.
[Tr. 34]. On June 8, 2015, ALJ Kayser issued an unfavorable
decision. [Tr. 21].
found that Plaintiff was not disabled from December 9, 2013,
the alleged onset date (“AOD”), though the date
of the decision. [Tr. 29]. At Step 1 of the sequential
evaluation process, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 9,
2013. Id. At Step 2, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
had the severe impairments of obesity and lumbosacral
spondylosis. Id. At Step 3, the ALJ found 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,
App. 1. The ALJ further found that the Plaintiff has the
Residual Functional Capacity to perform medium work as
defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(c) except he can only
frequently climb, balance, stoop, crouch, kneel and crawl;
and cannot work around extreme cold, vibration, wetness,
hazardous machinery or heights. [Tr. 27]. At Step 4, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff is capable of performing past relevant
work as an automobile inspector and repairer because the work
does not require the performance of work-related activities
precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity.
[Tr. 29]. Lastly, the ALJ concluded that the Plaintiff has
not been under a disability from his AOD through the date of
the decision. Id.
requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ decision
[Tr. 17] but the Appeals Council denied review, making the
ALJ decision the final agency decision. Plaintiff now seeks
judicial review of the decision under 42 U.S.C. 405(g) and
motion for judgment, Plaintiff asserts that the final agency
decision is unsupported by substantial evidence due to the
following errors: (1) the ALJ improperly analyzed the medical
evidence and failed to assign the proper weight to the
medical evidence of record; (2) the ALJ's residual
functional capacity determination is not supported by
substantial evidence; (3) the credibility determination was
not supported by substantial evidence; (4) the ALJ posed an
incomplete and incorrect hypothetical question to the
vocational expert, thus relying on incomplete and erroneous
testimony by the vocational expert. [R. 11 at 1].
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a reviewing court “must affirm
the Commissioner's conclusions absent a determination
that the Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal
standard or has made findings of fact unsupported by
substantial evidence in the record.” Longworth v.
Comm'r Soc. Sec., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005)
(citations omitted). “The substantial evidence standard
is met if a reasonable mind might accept the relevant
evidence as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Longworth v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 402 F.3d 591,
595 (6th Cir. 2005). Also, the scope of judicial review is
limited to the record itself, and the reviewing court
“may not try the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts in
evidence, nor decide questions of credibility.”
Hogg v. Sullivan, 987 F.2d 328, 331 (6th Cir. 1993)
Court finds that the Commissioner applied the correct legal
standard and that the Commissioner's findings of fact
were supported by substantial evidence in the record.
Accordingly, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is
GRANTED and Plaintiff's motion for judgment is DENIED.
The ALJ's Finding That Plaintiff Had the Residual
Functional Capacity for MediumWork Was Supported by
argues that the ALJ's residual functional capacity
(“RFC) finding was not supported by substantial
evidence. [R. 10]. The RFC analyzes an individual's
ability to do physical and mental work activities on a
sustained basis despite any existing physical or mental
impairments. Put another way, the RFC is “the most you
can still do despite your limitations.” 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1545(a)(1). In determining the RFC, the ALJ must
consider all of the claimant's impairments, including
those which are not severe. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(e); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1525; Maxey v.
Colvin, No. CIV.A. 6:12-244-KKC, 2013 WL 3984536, at *2
(E.D. Ky. Aug. 2, 2013). Here, substantial evidence supports
the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity for medium work.
provides an analysis of the medical evidence of record, which
documented the Plaintiff's complaints and diagnosis of
back pain. [Tr. 27-28]. The ALJ emphasized that doctors,
including treating physician Dr. Troutt, routinely noted some
lumbar tenderness but full strength throughout, a full range
of motion in Plaintiff's cervical spine and shoulders, a
normal gait, and normal sensation. [Tr. 28; see
generally Tr. 254-61, 269-71, 280-99]. The ALJ also
noted that Plaintiff's treatment was conservative in
nature, and that Plaintiff did not engage in any physical
therapy or surgery since the date he allegedly became
disabled. [Tr. 28; Tr. 48-49]. See 20 C.F.R. §
401.1529(c)(3)(iv)-(v) (stating an ALJ must consider the type
of treatment); Gronda v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 856 F.2d 36, 39 (6th Cir. 1988) (Commissioner
properly compared a claimant's “subjective
allegations of pain” with “his underlying
condition.”). The ALJ further noted Plaintiff's own
account that he has had back pain since 2010 but worked full
time-performing medium exertion-until December of 2013. [Tr.
27; Tr. 254]. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529(c)(3)
(stating an ALJ must consider evidence about a claimant's
prior work record). Finally, the ALJ underscores that
Plaintiff can feed, dress, and bathe without difficulty and
that he does sports photography on a part time basis,
occasionally shops for groceries, checks progress on antiques
on the internet for his wife, goes to church, and goes with
his wife to watch their son play tennis for Georgetown
College. [Tr. 28; Tr. 43-52]. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1529(c)(3)(i) (stating an ALJ must consider a
claimant's activities). After ...