United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ray Sizemore seeks judicial review of an administrative
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, which denied
Sizemore's claim for supplemental security income and
disability insurance benefits. Sizemore brings this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), alleging various errors
on the part of the ALJ considering the matter. The Court,
having reviewed the record and for the reasons set forth
herein, will DENY Sizemore's Motion for Summary Judgment
and GRANT the Commissioner's.
Kenneth Ray Sizemore filed an application for Title II
disability insurance benefits and Title XVI supplemental
social security on September 9, 2013, alleging disability
beginning on October 2, 2012 in both claims. [Transcript
(hereinafter, “Tr.”) 17.] Sizemore's claims
were initially denied by an Administrative Law Judge and then
denied again upon reconsideration. [Id.]
Subsequently, the ALJ conducted a hearing with Sizemore and
counsel, and the ALJ issued a final decision ultimately
denying both of Sizemore's claims for benefits.
[See Tr. 17-27.]
evaluate a claim of disability for both Title II disability
insurance benefit claims and Title XVI supplemental security
income claims, an ALJ conducts a five-step analysis.
Compare 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520 (disability
insurance benefit claim) with 20 C.F.R. §
416.920 (supplemental security income claims). First, if a
claimant is performing a substantial gainful activity, he is
not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b). Second, if a
claimant does not have any impairment or combination of
impairments which significantly limit his physical or mental
ability to do basic work activities, he does not have a
severe impairment and is not “disabled” as
defined by the regulations. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c).
Third, if a claimant's impairments meet or equal one of
the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1, he is “disabled.” C.F.R. §
404.1530(d). Before moving on to the fourth step, the ALJ
must use all of the relevant evidence in the record to
determine the claimant's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), which assess an individual's ability
to perform certain physical and metal work activities on a
sustained basis despite any impairment experienced by the
individual. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e); 20
C.F.R. § 404.1545.
the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has the RFC to
perform the requirements of his past relevant work, and if a
claimant's impairments do not prevent him from doing past
relevant work, he is not “disabled.” 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(e). Fifth, if a claimant's impairments
(considering his RFC, age, education, and past work) prevent
him from doing other work that exists in the national
economy, then he is “disabled.” 20 C.F.R. §
step four of the analysis, “the claimant bears the
burden of proving the existence and severity of limitations
caused by her impairments and the fact that she is precluded
from performing her past relevant work.” Jones v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir.
2003). At step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to
identify a significant number of jobs that accommodate the
claimant's profile, but the claimant retains the ultimate
burden of proving his lack of residual functional capacity.
Id.; Jordan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 548
F.3d 417, 423 (6th Cir. 2008).
outset of this case, the ALJ determined that Sizemore met the
insured status requirements of the Social Security Act
through December 31, 2017. [Tr. 19]; see also 20
C.F.R. § 404.131. Then at step one, the ALJ found
Sizemore had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since the alleged disability onset date. [Tr. 20.] At step
two, the ALJ found Sizemore to suffer from the following
severe impairments: aortic aneurysm, back pain secondary to
degenerative disc disease, lumbar spine; history of substance
abuse; mood disorder; and borderline intellectual
functioning. [Id.] At step three, the ALJ determined
Sizemore's combination of impairments did not meet or
medically equal one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404 or Part 416. [Tr. 22.] Before moving on to step
four, the ALJ considered the record and determined that
Sizemore possessed the following residual functioning
[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform a reduced range of light work. The claimant can lift
and carry 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently. He
can stand/walk for 4 hours in an 8-hour workday and sit for 6
hours in an 8-hour workday. The claimant is unable to climb
ropes, ladders and scaffolds. He can occasionally climb
ramps/stairs, balance, kneel, crouch, crawl, and stoop; avoid
concentrated exposure to extreme cold and extreme heat,
vibration and hazards. The claimant is able to understand and
remember simple instructions, make judgments that are
commensurate with the functions of unskilled work; respond
appropriately to supervision, coworkers and work situations
and deal with changes in a routine work setting.
[Tr. 23.] After explaining Sizemore's RFC, the ALJ found
at step four that, based on this RFC, his age, education, and
work experience, there are several jobs in the national
economy that Sizemore can perform. [Tr. 26.] Accordingly, the
ALJ found at step five that Mr. Sizemore is not disabled
pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g) and
416.920(g). [Tr. 27.]
the unfavorable decision, Sizemore timely appealed to the
Appeals Council. However, the Appeals Council denied review
on February 4, 2016, and Sizemore now seeks judicial review
in this Court. [See, e.g., R. 8-10.]
Court's review is generally limited to whether there is
substantial evidence in the record to support the ALJ's
decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Wright v.
Massanari, 321 F.3d 611, 614 (6th Cir. 2003);
Shelman v. Heckler, 821 F.2d 316, 319-20 (6th Cir.
1987). “Substantial evidence” is “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) (citing Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). The substantial evidence standard
“presupposes that there is a zone of choice within
which [administrative] ...