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Coontz v. Berryhill

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

September 25, 2017

JANET FAYE COONTZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SSA, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         The plaintiff Janet Coontz brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision denying her claim for disability insurance benefits. The Court, having reviewed the record, will affirm the Commissioner's decision.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This Court's review of the decision by the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) is limited to determining whether it “is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards.” Rabbers v. Comm'r Soc. Sec., 582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir.2009).

         In denying Coontz's claim, the ALJ engaged in the five-step sequential process set forth in the regulations under the Social Security Act (the “Act”). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(e). See, e.g., Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 529 (6th Cir. 1997).

         At step one, the ALJ determined that Coontz has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 27, 2013, the alleged onset date. (Administrative Record (“AR”) at 39.)

         At step two, the ALJ determined that Coontz suffers from the following severe impairments: low back pain/lumbago with degenerative lumbar disc and right carpal tunnel syndrome. (AR at 39.)

         At step three, the ALJ found that Coontz did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. (AR at 41.)

         Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that Coontz has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform a reduced range of “medium” work, finding that she can:

lift and/or carry up to 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently; sit six hours out of eight; walk and/or stand six hours out of eight; and push and/or pull up to the exertional limitations. She can frequently handle, finger and feel with the bilateral upper extremities. She can frequently climb ramps and stairs but never climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds. She can frequently stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. She cannot work at unprotected heights or around moving mechanical parts or with vibration. .

(AR at 42.)

         At step four, the ALJ determined that, given the RFC described above, Coontz can still perform her past relevant work as a material handler and, thus, she is not disabled. (AR at 44.)

         The ALJ also made an alternative finding. Proceeding to step five, the ALJ determined that, even if Coontz is unable to perform past relevant work, there are other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy ...


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