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Ellison v. Berryhill

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

September 27, 2017

ROBERT CLYNE ELLISON, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SSA, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.

         The plaintiff Robert Ellison 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 and supplemental security income 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 Ellison'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 Ellison has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 1, 2005, the alleged onset date. (Administrative Record (“AR”) at 120.)

         At step two, the ALJ determined that Ellison did not have a severe impairment prior to the expiration of his insured status on December 31, 2006, making him ineligible for disability insurance benefits. With regard to Ellison's application for Supplemental Social Security Income payments, however, the ALJ determined that, after the expiration of Ellison's insured status, Ellison suffered from the combined severed impairments of a history of bilateral shoulder dislocations with evidence of ongoing mild right shoulder separation; obesity; traumatic arthritis of the left ankle, status post ankle fracture; depressive disorder, not otherwise specified; and alcohol dependency. (AR at 120.)

         At step three, the ALJ found that, since the expiration of Ellison's insured status, he has not had an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. (AR at 123.)

         Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that, since the expiration of Ellison's insured status, Ellison has had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform “medium” work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c), except that he can:

perform no more than occasional kneeling, crouching, crawling and climbing of ladders, ropes or scaffolds and no more than frequent operation of foot controls or pushing/pulling with the left lower extremity. He can understand and remember simple instructions and procedures; can sustain attention, concentration and pace for simple task completion; can tolerate occasional, casual contact with coworkers, supervisors and the general public; and can adapt to occasional changes in the workplace that are gradually introduced with reasonable support and structure.

(AR at 125.)

         At step four, the ALJ determined that Ellison has no past relevant work. (AR at 128.) At step five, the ALJ determined that, given Ellison's RFC, age, education, and work experience, since the expiration of his insured status, there have been jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Ellison can perform and, thus, he is not disabled. (AR at 128.)

         ANALYSIS

         Ellison raises really only one objection to the ALJ's decision. He argues that the ALJ erred in failing to find that Chronic Obstructive Pulminary Disease (COPD) and chest pains were severe impairments and ...


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