United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
L. BANNING 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, will affirm the
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
2, 2013, Plaintiff Teresa Hayes applied for disability
insurance benefits (DIB), alleging disability beginning on
January 1, 2012. (Tr. 168). Plaintiff was fifty-three years
old at the time of filing, and she alleged that she was
unable to work due to diabetes, obesity, neuropathy,
depression, anxiety, fatigue, and pain. (Tr. 75).
application was denied initially, and again on
reconsideration. (Tr. 102-05; 107-13). At Plaintiff's
request, an administrative hearing was conducted on October
13, 2015 before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Scott Johnson.
(Tr. 35-74). On November 18, 2015, ALJ Johnson ruled that
Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits. (Tr. 10). This
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on
October 25, 2016, when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-6).
filed the instant action on December 12, 2016, alleging the
ALJ's decision “was erroneous, arbitrary and was
not supported by substantial evidence.” (Doc. # 1 at
1). The matter had culminated in cross-motions for summary
judgment, which are now ripe for adjudication. (Docs. # 8 and
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, as long as
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). 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. The burden of proof rests with the Plaintiff on
Steps One through Four. As to the last step, the burden of
proof shifts 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 January 1, 2012, the
alleged onset date of disability. (Tr. 15). At Step Two, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following severe
impairments: diabetes with neuropathy and obesity.
Id. The ALJ also determined that Plaintiff has the
following non-severe impairments: hypertension, fatigue,
vision loss, acute renal failure, pyelonephritis, kidney
stones, and prolapsed bladder. (Tr. 16-17). At Step Three,
the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff does not have an impairment
or combination of impairments that meet or medically equal
one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. § 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 21).
Four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff possesses the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform work at the light
exertional level, as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b),
with the following limitations:
The claimant was able to lift and carry 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. The claimant was able
to stand or walk for a total of six hours in an eight-hour
workday, and sit for a total of six hours in an eight-hour
workday. The claimant could frequently climb ramps and
stairs, but never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The
claimant could frequently stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
The claimant could frequently handle and finger, bilaterally.
The claimant could occasionally tolerate exposure to extreme