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Minix v. Berryhill

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

October 27, 2017

LINDA JAN MINIX, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL[1], Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph M. Hood Senior U.S. District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross-Motions for Summary Judgment (DEs 7 and 9) on Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner's denial of her application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB).[2] The matter having been fully briefed by the parties is now ripe for this Court's review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         I. Overview of the Process and the Instant Matter

         In determining whether an individual is disabled, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) uses a five step analysis:

1. An individual who is working and engaging in substantial gainful activity is not disabled, regardless of the claimant's medical condition.
2. An individual who is working but does not have a “severe” impairment which significantly limits his physical or mental ability to do basic work activities is not disabled.
3. If an individual is not working and has a severe impairment which “meets the duration requirement and is listed in appendix 1 or equal to a listed impairment(s)”, then he is disabled regardless of other factors.
4. If a decision cannot be reached based on current work activity and medical facts alone, and the claimant has a severe impairment, then the Secretary reviews the claimant's residual functional capacity and the physical and mental demands of the claimant's previous work. If the claimant is able to continue to do this previous work, then he is not disabled.
5. If the claimant cannot do any work he did in the past because of a severe impairment, then the Secretary considers his residual functional capacity, age, education, and past work experience to see if he can do other work. If he cannot, the claimant is disabled.

Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Hum. Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994)(citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(1982)).

         II.

         Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), alleging disability beginning January 28, 2013 (Tr. 223). The application was denied initially and on reconsideration (Tr. 99, 100), and by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) after two hearings (Tr. 72-81, 82-98). The Appeals Council declined Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6), making the ALJ's October 14, 2015 decision the final agency decision for purposes of judicial review (Tr. 56-71). 20 C.F.R. § 422.210(a).[3] This appeal followed.

         III.

         Plaintiff was 49 years old at the time she allegedly became disabled on January 28, 2013, and 52 years old at the time of the Commissioner's October 14, 2015 final decision (Tr. 223). Plaintiff has the equivalent of a high school education (GED) (Tr. 240), and past relevant work as an assistant store manager, store manager, and dental office receptionist (Tr. 77-78, 97, 240). In her application materials, Plaintiff alleged she became unable to work due to back and wrist conditions (Tr. 239).

         Plaintiff has restricted her arguments to the ALJ's physical residual functional capacity assessment. Plaintiff's Brief (Pl.'s Br.) at 7-12. Therefore, it is unnecessary ...


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