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Nipper v. Berryhill

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

September 21, 2017

JOEY DEAN NIPPER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HENRY R. WILHOLT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) to challenge a final decision of the Defendant denying Plaintiffs application for disability insurance benefits. The Court having reviewed the record in this case and the dispositive motions filed by the parties, and being otherwise sufficiently advised, for the reasons set forth herein, finds that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge is supported by substantial evidence and should be affirmed.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff filed his current application for disability insurance benefits in January 2015, alleging disability beginning in February 2012, due to bipolar disorder, depression, kidney problems, insomnia, paranoia, shoulder problems, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome and liver problems. This application was denied initially and on reconsideration and then denied by an administrative law judge. The Appeals Council subsequently vacated this decision and remanded the case for further proceedings (Tr. 236-38). Thereafter, upon request by Plaintiff, an administrative hearing was conducted by Administrative Law Judge Roger Reynolds (hereinafter "ALJ"), wherein Plaintiff, accompanied by counsel, testified. At the hearing, Tina Stambaugh, a vocational expert (hereinafter "VE"), also testified.

         At the hearing, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.920, the ALJ performed the following five-step sequential analysis in order to determine whether the Plaintiff was disabled:

Step 1: If the claimant is performing substantial gainful work, he is not disabled.
Step 2: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work, his impairment(s) must be severe before he can be found to be disabled based upon the requirements in 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(b).
Step 3: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work and has a severe impairment (or impairments) that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and his impairments (or impairments) meets or medically equals a listed impairment contained in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4, the claimant is disabled without further inquiry.
Step 4: If the claimant's impairment (or impairments) does not prevent him from doing his past relevant work, he is not disabled.
Step 5: Even if the claimant's impairment or impairments prevent him from performing his past relevant work, if other work exists in significant numbers in the national economy that accommodates his residual functional capacity and vocational factors, he is not disabled.

         The ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. Plaintiff was 44 years old at the time of he alleges he became disabled, he has a high school education. His past relevant work experience consists of work as a correctional officer.

         At Step 1 of the sequential analysis, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the daye after the most recent administratively final unfavorable decision on a prior application (Tr. 43).

         The ALJ then determined, at Step 2, that Plaintiff suffers from chronic bilateral shoulder pain of uncertain etiology, chronic kidney disease, osteoarthritis, depressive disorder and anxiety with paranoid tendencies, which he found to be "severe" within the meaning of the Regulations (Tr. 43).

         At Step 3, the ALJ found that Plaintiffs impairments did not meet or medically equal any of ...


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