Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Creek v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

October 17, 2017

ROY L. CREEK PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM, OPINION, AND ORDER

          H. Brent Brennenstuhl United States Magistrate Judge

         BACKGROUND

         Before the Court is the complaint (DN 1) of Plaintiff Roy L. Creek seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Both the Plaintiff (DN 13) and Defendant (DN 14) have filed a Fact and Law Summary.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, the parties have consented to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge conducting all further proceedings in this case, including issuance of a memorandum opinion and entry of judgment, with direct review by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the event an appeal is filed (DN 11). By Order entered May 16, 2017 (DN 12), the parties were notified that oral arguments would not be held unless a written request therefor was filed and granted. No such request was filed.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         Plaintiff filed an application for Social Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits on July 14, 2014 (Tr. 313, 323). Plaintiff alleged that he became disabled on September 28, 2012 as a result of chronic back pain, glaucoma, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, COPD, diabetes, neuropathy pain in all extremities, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating and focusing (Tr. 351). Administrative Law Judge Richard Guida (“ALJ”) conducted a video hearing on October 27, 2015 from Baltimore, Maryland. Plaintiff appeared remotely from Bowling Green, Kentucky and was represented by attorney Mary Burchett-Bower. Also present and testifying was impartial vocational expert Samuel Edelmann.

         In a decision dated December 10, 2015, the ALJ evaluated this adult disability claim pursuant to the five-step sequential evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner (Tr. 12-31). At the first step, the ALJ found Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 28, 2012, the alleged onset date (Tr. 17). At the second step, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's coronary artery disease, hypertension, degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, diabetes, neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, depressive disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning are “severe” impairments within the meaning of the regulations (Tr. 17). Also at the second step, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's glaucoma, sleep apnea, and COPD are “non-severe” impairments within the meaning of the regulations (Tr. 18). At the third step, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in Appendix 1 (Tr. 18).

         At the fourth step, the ALJ found Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform a limited range of light work (Tr. 19). More specifically, the ALJ assigned Plaintiff the following limitations:

[H]e can only occasionally push or pull, cannot climb ladders, can occasionally climb stairs, balance, kneel, stoop, crouch, and crawl, can engage in frequent bilateral handling and fingering, requires the option to sit or stand at will without leaving the workstation, and cannot have concentrated exposure to temperature extremes, unprotected heights, and moving machinery. In addition, he is limited to performing simple, routine tasks.

(Tr. 19). Relying on testimony from the vocational expert, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to perform his past relevant work as a truck driver (Tr. 23).

         The ALJ proceeded to the fifth step where he considered Plaintiff's residual functional capacity, age, education, and past work experience as well as testimony from the vocational expert (Tr. 23-24). The ALJ found that Plaintiff is capable of performing a significant number of jobs that exist in the national economy (Tr. 24). Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has not been under a “disability, ” as defined in the Social Security Act, from September 28, 2012 through the date of the decision (Tr. 24).

         Plaintiff timely filed a request for the Appeals Council to review the ALJ's decision (Tr. 9). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-6).

         CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

         Standard of Review

         Review by the Court is limited to determining whether the findings set forth in the final decision of the Commissioner are supported by “substantial evidence, ” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Cotton v. Sullivan, 2 F.3d 692, 695 (6th Cir. 1993); Wyatt v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 974 F.2d 680, 683 (6th Cir. 1992), and whether the correct legal standards were applied. Landsaw v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 803 F.2d 211, 213 (6th Cir. 1986). “Substantial evidence exists when a reasonable mind could accept the evidence as adequate to support the challenged conclusion, even if that evidence could support a decision the other way.” Cotton, 2 F.3d at 695 (quoting Casey v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 987 F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir. 1993)). In reviewing a case for substantial evidence, the Court “may not try the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts in evidence, nor decide questions of credibility.” Cohen v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 964 F.2d 524, 528 (6th Cir. 1992) (quoting Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984)).

         As previously mentioned, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-6). At that point, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.955(b), 404.981, 422.210(a); see 42 U.S.C. § 405(h) (finality of the Commissioner's decision). Thus, the Court will be reviewing the decision of the ALJ, not the Appeals Council, and the evidence that was in the administrative record when the ALJ rendered the decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); 20 C.F.R. § 404.981; Cline v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 96 F.3d 146, 148 (6th Cir. 1996); Cotton v. Sullivan, 2 F.3d 692, 695-696 (6th Cir. 1993).

         The Commissioner's Sequential Evaluation Process The Social Security Act authorizes payment of Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income to persons with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq. (Title II Disability Insurance Benefits), 1381 et seq. (Title XVI ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.