Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Simpkins v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

August 31, 2017

DENNIS L. SIMPKINS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          David L. Sunning, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff 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, hereby affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Dennis Simpkins originally filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) on December 28, 2012. (Tr. 94). In a decision dated February 28, 2014, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Scott Shimer denied Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 91-105). On September 5, 2014, Plaintiff protectively filed a new application for SSI, alleging disability beginning on April 10, 2012. (Tr. 25, 202). Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that he is unable to work due to severe post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), traumatic brain injury, ringing of the ears, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, walking with a cane, and anger issues. (Tr. 235).

         Plaintiff's application was denied initially and again on reconsideration. (Tr. 144, 152). At Plaintiff's request, an administrative hearing was conducted on April 12, 2016, before ALJ Jonathan Stanley. (Tr. 41-90). On May 16, 2016, ALJ Stanley ruled that Plaintiff was not entitled to disability benefits. (Tr. 22-40). This decision became final when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on January 13, 2017. (Tr. 1-6). Plaintiff filed the instant action on January 27, 2017. (Doc. # 1). The matter has culminated in cross-motions for summary judgment, which are now ripe for adjudication. (Docs. # 14 and 17).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Overview of the Process

         Judicial 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 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 is required to affirm the Commissioner's decision, as long as it is supported by substantial evidence, even if it 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).

         To 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. As to the last step, the burden of proof shifts from the claimant 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).

         B. The ALJ's Determination

         At Step One, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date of April 10, 2012. (Tr. 27). At Step Two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine with lumbago, degenerative joint disease of the knees, mood disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. (Tr. 27). At Step Three, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 29).

         At Step Four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff possesses the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work with the following limitations:

[H]e cannot climb ropes, ladders and scaffolds and can no more than occasionally climb stairs and ramps, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl. The claimant can perform simple routine repetitive job tasks and detailed job tasks, but cannot make executive decisions. He can manage and tolerate infrequent changes in the workplace routine and can interact frequently with supervisors and occasionally with coworkers, but cannot tolerate contract with the general public.

(Tr. 30). Based upon this RFC, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not able to perform his past relevant work. (Tr. 35). Accordingly, the ALJ proceeded to Step Five, and found that considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 35). Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from the date of Plaintiff's application through the date of the decision. (Tr. 36).

         C. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.