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Morris v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

September 29, 2017

JOANNE FARMER MORRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Plaintiff Joanne Farmer Morris brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision denying her claims for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits, and a consolidated claim for supplemental security income. The Court, having reviewed the record, will AFFIRM the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security.

         I. Procedural background and the administrative decision

         Morris was born on October 8th, 1955, and she filed a claim for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits, alleging disability beginning on December 30, 2010. (AR 433). On July 27, 2012, administrative law judge (“ALJ”) Don. C. Paris issued a decision finding the claimant was not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act. Upon review of that decision, this Court reversed and remanded the matter to the Commissioner of Social Security for further proceedings in accordance with the fourth sentence of section 205(g) of the Social Security Act. (Civil Action Number 6:13-cv-00192-GFVT).

         While judicial review of Morris' disability insurance claim was pending before this Court, Morris filed subsequent electronic claims for Title II and Title XVI disability benefits on September 5, 2013. Following remand, the ALJ has now consolidated the claim files to create a single electronic record for a new decision on the consolidated claims. The ALJ has issued a decision finding that Morris was not disabled as to either claim.

         In denying Morris' claims, the ALJ engaged in the five-step sequential process set forth in the regulations under the Social Security 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 Morris has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 30, 2010, the alleged onset date of disability. (AR 435).

         At step two, the ALJ found that Morris has the following severe impairments: generalized osteoarthrosis with multiple-joint pain; morbid obesity; type 2 diabetes mellitus; and degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine. (AR 435).

         At step three, the ALJ found that Morris does not have an impairment or a combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments of the federal regulations. (AR 436-437).

         Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that Morris has:

[T]he residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a), with the following limitations. The claimant can lift and carry ten pounds occasionally, and less than ten pounds frequently. She can stand/walk two hours, and sit six hours, out of an eight-hour workday. She never should climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. She occasionally can climb stairs and ramps. She frequently can balance. She occasionally can stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl.

(AR 437-438).

         At step four, the ALJ found Morris capable of performing past relevant work as a billing clerk, a referral clerk, and a receptionist. (AR 451). A vocational expert testified, and the ALJ found, that Morris has past relevant work as: a billing clerk (SVP 4 semi-skilled, sedentary exertion work); a referral clerk (SVP 3 semi-skilled, sedentary exertion work); and a receptionist (SVP 4 semi-skilled, sedentary exertion work). (AR 451). Considering Morris' residual functional capacity, the ALJ found that Morris was capable of performing these jobs. (AR 451).

         Thus, the ALJ found that Morris has not been under a disability for purposes of her application for disability benefits or her application for supplemental security income. (AR 451). The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security when the Appeals Council found no reason to assume jurisdiction (AR 422). Therefore, Morris ...


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