United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
IESHA N. HENSLEY PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYWILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT
Whalin, Magistrate Judge United States District Court.
Iesha Hensley has filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§405(g) to obtain judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security that denied his/her
application for supplemental security income (SSI). Hensley
applied for SSI on August 13, 2013, alleging that she was
disabled as of August 13, 2012, due to scoliosis, obesity,
attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression,
PTSD, personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder (Tr.
166-169; 172-173). The Commissioner denied Hensley's
claims on initial consideration (Tr.109-112) and on
reconsideration (Tr. 117-123). Hensley requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
John R. Price conducted a hearing in Louisville, Kentucky, on
September 8, 2015 (Tr.33-76). Hensley attended with her
attorney, Shannon Fauver (Tr.33). Hensley and vocational
expert (VE) Robert Piper testified at the hearing (Tr. 34-71,
72-76). Following the conclusion of the hearing, ALJ Price
entered a hearing decision on October 28, 2015 that found
Hensley is not disabled for the purposes of the Social
Security Act (Tr.14-28). In his adverse decision, ALJ Price
made the following findings:
1. Born on July 29, 1991, the claimant had not attained age
22 as of August 13, 2012, the alleged onset date. (20 CFR
404.102, 416.120(c)(4) and 404350(a)(5)).
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since August 13, 2012, the alleged onset date (20
C.F.R. 404.1571, et seq. and 416.971, et
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
scoliosis, obesity, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), depression, PTSD, personality disorder and rule/out
schizoaffective disorder (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(c) and
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c) except she could occasionally
bend, stoop, kneel, or crouch; she could occasionally climb
ramps or stairs, but never climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; she should avoid extreme cold, even moderate
vibration, and hazards such as unprotected heights and
dangerous moving machinery; and she is capable of simple,
routine one to three step job tasks with occasional, but
superficial interaction with others.
6. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 C.F.R. 404.1565
7. The claimant was born on July 29, 1991, and was
21-years-old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 C.F.R.
404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has at least a high-school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 C.F.R. 404.1564 and
9. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the
claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1568
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform (20 C.F.R. 404.1569,
404.1569(a), 416.969 and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from August 13, 2012, through the
date of this decision (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
16-27). Hensley sought review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council (Tr.9-10). The Appeals Council denied her
request for review, finding no reason under the Rules to
review ALJ Price's decision (Tr.1-6). The present lawsuit
Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process for Claims of Adult
is defined by law as being the inability to do substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result
in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for
a continuous period of not less than 12 months. See, 20 CFR
§§ 404.1505(a)(4), 416.905(a). To determine whether
a claimant for DIB or SSI benefits satisfies such definition,
a 5-step evaluation process has been developed. 20 CFR
§§ 404.1520, 916.920(a). At step 1, the
Commissioner must determine whether the claimant is currently
engaged in substantial gainful activity; if so, the
Commissioner will find the claimant to be not disabled. See,
20 CFR §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(ii),
416.971. See, Dinkel v. Secretary, 910 F.2d, 315,
318 (6th Cir. 1990).
claimant is not working, then the Commissioner next must
determine at step 2 of the evaluation process whether the
claimant has a severe impairment or combination of severe
impairments that significantly limit his or her ability to
perform basic work activities. See 20 CFR §§
404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). If the impairments of
the claimant are determined by the Commissioner to be
non-severe, in other words, so slight that they could not
result in a finding of disability irrespective of a
claimant's vocational factors, then the claimant will be
determined to be not disabled at step 2. See, Higgs v.
Bowen, 880 F.2d 960, 962 (6th Cir. 1988);
Mowery v. Heckler, 771 F.2d 966, 971-72
(6th Cir. 1985).
claimant has a severe impairment or impairments, then the
Commissioner at step 3 of the process will determine whether
such impairments are sufficiently serious to satisfy the
listing of impairments found in Appendix 1 of Subpart P of
Part 404 of the federal regulations. 20 CFR §§
404.1520(A)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii) The claimant will be
determined to be automatically disabled without consideration
of his or her age, education or work experience if the
claimant's impairments are sufficiently severe to meet or
equal the criteria of any impairment listed in the Appendix.
See, Lankford v. Sullivan, 942 F.2d 301,
306 (6th Cir. 1991); Abbott v. Sullivan,
905 F.2d 918, 923 (6th Cir. 1990).
the severity of the claimant's impairments does not meet
or equal the listings, then the Commissioner must determine
at step 4 whether the claimant retains the residual
functional capacity (RFC) given his or her impairments to
permit a return to any of his or her past relevant work. 20
CFR §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv).
See, Smith v. Secretary, 893 F.2d 106, 109-110
(6th Cir. 1989). A claimant who retains the
residual functional capacity, despite his or her severe
impairments, to perform past relevant work is not disabled.
20 CFR §§ 404.1560(b)(3), 416.960(b)(3) The burden
switches to the Commissioner at step 5 of the sequential
evaluation process to establish that the claimant, who cannot
return to his or her past relevant work, remains capable of
performing alternative work in the national economy given his
or her residual functional capacity, age, education and past
relevant work experience. See, 20 CFR §§
404.1520(a)(4)(v), 404.1560(c), 416.920(a)(4)(v), 416.960(c);
Felisky v. Bowen, 35 F.3d 1027, 1035 (6th
Cir. 1994); Herr v. Commissioner, 203 F.3d 388, 391
(6th Cir. 1999). Collectively, the above
disability evaluation analysis is commonly referred to as the
“5-step sequential evaluation
of a decision of the Commissioner is governed by 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). The statute, and case law that interprets it,
require a reviewing court to affirm the findings of the
Commissioner if they are supported by substantial evidence
and the Commissioner has employed the appropriate legal
standard. Walters v. Commissioner of Social
Security, 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997)
(“This Court must affirm the Commissioner's
conclusions absent a determination that the Commissioner has
failed to apply the correct legal standards or has made
findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the
record.). Substantial evidence is defined by the Supreme
Court to be “such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).
See also, Lashley v. Sec'y of HHS, 708 F.2d
1048, 1053 (6th Cir. 1983) (citing
Perales). It is more than a mere scintilla of
evidence or evidence that merely creates the suspicion of the
existence of a fact, but must be enough evidence to justify a
refusal to direct a verdict if the matter were tried to a
jury. Sias v. Sec'y of HHS, 861 F.2d 475, 479 n.
1 (6th Cir. 1988).
substantiality of the evidence is to be determined based upon
a review of the record taken as a whole, not simply some
evidence, but rather the entirety of the record to include
those portions that detract from its weight. Garner v.
Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984);
Laskowski v. Apfel, 100 F.Supp.2d 474, 482 (E.D.
Mich. 2000). So long as the decision of the Commissioner is
supported by substantial evidence, it must be upheld by the
federal court even if the record might support a contrary
conclusion. Smith v. Sec'y of HHS, 893 F.2d 106,
108 (6th Cir. 1989). The substantial evidence
standard “presupposes that there is a ...