United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. Bunning, United States District Judge.
brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to
obtain judicial review of an administrative decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security. The Court, having reviewed
the record, will affirm the Commissioner's decision, as
it is supported by substantial evidence.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
18, 2014, Plaintiff David Nelson Creech filed an application
for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”),
alleging disability beginning on March 6, 2014. (Tr. 172-75).
Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that he was limited in his
ability to work due to the following: bone deterioration
disease in his back, degenerative disc disease, arthritis in
both hands, “HBP”, and asthma. (Tr. 191).
claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Tr.
60-75, 78-93). At Plaintiff's request, an administrative
hearing was conducted on August 1, 2016, before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Roger L.
Reynolds. (Tr. 34-59). On June 23, 2015, ALJ Reynolds ruled
that Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits. (Tr. 11-26).
This decision became the final decision of the Commissioner
when the Appeals Council denied review on January 27, 2017.
March 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant action. (Doc. #
1). This matter has culminated in cross-motions for summary
judgment, which are now ripe for the Court's review.
(Docs. # 14 and 17).
Overview of the Process
review of the Commissioner's decision is restricted to
determining whether it is supported by substantial evidence
and was made pursuant to proper legal standards. See
Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25
F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). “Substantial
evidence” is defined as “more than a scintilla of
evidence but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Id. Courts are not to
conduct a de novo review, resolve conflicts in the
evidence, or make credibility determinations. Id.
Rather, the Court must affirm the Commissioner's
decision, provided it is supported by substantial evidence,
even if the Court might have decided the case differently.
See Her v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d 388,
389-90 (6th Cir. 1999). If supported by substantial evidence,
the Commissioner's findings must be affirmed, even if
there is evidence favoring Plaintiff's side.
Listenbee v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs.,
846 F.2d 345, 349 (6th Cir. 1988). Similarly, an
administrative decision is not subject to reversal merely
because substantial evidence would have supported the
opposite conclusion. Smith v. Chater, 99 F.3d 780,
781-82 (6th Cir. 1996).
ALJ, in determining disability, conducts a five-step
analysis. Step One considers whether the claimant is still
performing substantial gainful activity; Step Two, whether
any of the claimant's impairments are
“severe”; Step Three, whether the impairments
meet or equal a listing in the Listing of Impairments; Step
Four, whether the claimant can still perform his past
relevant work; and Step Five, whether significant numbers of
other jobs exist in the national economy which the claimant
can perform. As to the last step, the burden of proof shifts
from the claimant to the Commissioner. See Jones v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir.
2003); Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).
The ALJ's Determination
One, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity from his amended alleged onset
date, March 6, 2014, through his date last insured. (Tr. 16).
At Step Two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: obesity; chronic low back pain
with left leg radiculopathy secondary to degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine, with disc herniations at the
L4-5 and L5-S1 levels; asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease with continued nicotine abuse; osteoporosis and
scoliosis of the thoracic spine; hypertension; anxiety NOS
(not otherwise specified); and depression NOS (20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(c)). (Tr. 16). At Step Three, the ALJ
considered Listings 1.04, 3.02, 30.0, 12.04 and 12.06, and
concluded that Plaintiff did 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." (Tr.
Four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a reduced
range of sedentary work, as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(a), with the exertional and non-exertional
limitations as follows:
He can lift and carry ten pounds occasionally and five pounds
frequently. The claimant can stand or walk two hours in an
eight-hour workday. He can sit six hours in an eight-hour
workday. He cannot climb ropes, ladders or scaffolds, but he
can occasionally climb stairs or ramps. The claimant can
occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl. He cannot perform
aerobic activities such as running or jumping. He should
avoid work with hands over the head. The claimant cannot
operate foot pedal controls. He should avoid exposure to
concentrated dusts, gases, smoke, fumes, temperature
extremes, excess humidity, concentrated vibration or
industrial hazards. The claimant requires entry-level work
with simple repetitive procedures. He can tolerate only