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Bailey v. Berryhill

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

September 27, 2017

ERNEST DAVID BAILEY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SSA, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.

         The plaintiff Ernest David Bailey brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision denying his claim for disability insurance benefits. The Court, having reviewed the record, will reverse the Commissioner's decision and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         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 Bailey'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 Bailey has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 15, 2011, the alleged onset date. (Administrative Record (“AR”) at 15.)

         At step two, the ALJ determined that Bailey suffers from the following severe impairments: multilevel spondylosis, cervical spine; mild multilevel spondylosis, thoracic spine; mild multilevel spondylosis, lumbar spine; and right shoulder osteoarthritis, status-post arthroscopy. (AR at 15.)

         At step three, the ALJ found that Bailey did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. (AR at 17.)

         Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that Bailey had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform the following functions:

The claimant can lift/carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently. The claimant can stand for approximately six hours in an eight hour day and claimant can sit for approximately six hours in an eight-hour day; he can occasionally push or pull with the dominant right upper extremity; never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; occasionally overhead reaching bilateral upper extremities. Claimant should avoid all exposure to vibration and hazards such as unprotected heights or dangerous machinery. He can frequently balance, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl.

(AR at 17.)

         At step four, the ALJ determined that, given the RFC described above, Bailey can still perform his past relevant work as a custodian and factory worker and, therefore was not disabled. (AR at 21.)

         Despite having determined at step four that Bailey was not disabled, the ALJ proceeded to step five for an alternative finding. Here, the ALJ found that, given the RFC described above, even if Bailey cannot perform his past relevant work, he can perform jobs that exist in significant ...


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