United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. BUNNING 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, will affirm the Commissioner's decision, as
it is supported by substantial evidence.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
20, 2013, Plaintiff Cheryl Ann Joan Vires filed an
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”), alleging disability beginning on
November 4, 2011. (Tr. 173-77). Specifically, Plaintiff
alleged that she was limited in ability to work due to
osteoarthritis of her hands. (Tr. 211).
claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Tr. 89,
90; see also 107-09, 114-20). Plaintiff subsequently
amended her disability date to July 27, 2012. (Tr. 195). At
Plaintiff's request, an administrative hearing was
conducted on January 26, 2015, before Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) Greg Holsclaw. (Tr. 36-77). On June
23, 2015, ALJ Holsclaw ruled that Plaintiff was not entitled
to benefits. (Tr. 14-34). This decision became the final
decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied
review on July 13, 2016. (Tr. 1-6).
September 11, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action. (Doc.
# 1). This matter has culminated in cross-motions for summary
judgment, which are now ripe for the Court's review.
(Docs. # 7, 9, and 12).
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
Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25
F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). “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.” Id. 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, provided it is supported by substantial evidence,
even if the Court might have decided the case differently.
See 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 and 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).
ALJ, in determining disability, conducts a five-step
analysis. Step One considers whether the claimant is still
performing substantial gainful activity; Step Two, whether
any of the claimant's impairments 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 significant numbers of
other jobs exist in the national economy which the claimant
can perform. As to the last step, the burden of proof shifts
from the claimant to the Commissioner. See Jones v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir.
2003); 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 had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity from her amended alleged onset
date, July 27, 2012, through her date last insured. (Tr. 19).
At Step Two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had two severe
impairments: arthritis of the hand(s) (to include left CMC
joint arthritis)/lateral epicondylitis; and a history of
vertigo/syncope. (Tr. 20). At Step Three, the ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that “meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1." (Tr. 22).
Specifically, the ALJ considered Listing 1.02B and found that
the record did not show that Plaintiff was “unable to
effectively perform fine and gross movements
effectively.” (Tr. 22). Nor did Plaintiff's
impairments show inflammatory arthritis under the immune
system disorders in Listing 14.09, or any other impairment or
combination that met or medically equaled a Listing. (Tr.
Four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a limited
range of medium work, as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(c), with the exertional and non-exertional
limitations as follows:
[N]o more than six hours of standing/walking out of an
eight-hour workday, sitting no more than six hours out of an
eight hour workday, and pushing/pull only to the medium
weight limits except should never climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; no more than frequent (versus constant/continuous)
climbing of ramps/stairs, stooping, kneeling, crouching or
crawling; unlimited balancing; no exposure to dangerous
moving machinery or ...