United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Gregory F. Van, Tatenhove United States District Judge.
Curtis Goins seeks judicial review of an administrative
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, which denied
his claim for supplemental security income and disability
insurance benefits. Mr. Goins brings this action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), alleging various errors on the part
of the ALJ considering the matter. The Court, having reviewed
the record and for the reasons set forth herein, will
DENY Mr. Goins's Motion for Summary
Judgment and GRANT the Commissioner's.
Randell Curtis Joins initially filed an application for Title
II disability insurance benefits and Title XVI supplemental
social security on August 18, 2012, alleging disability
beginning on November 30, 2011, in both claims. [Transcript
(hereinafter, “Tr.”) 112.] Goins's claims
were initially denied by an Administrative Law Judge on
December 3, 2012, and then denied again upon reconsideration
on January 25, 2013. Id. Subsequently, the ALJ
conducted a hearing with Goins on October 30, 2013.
Id. On January 8, 2014, the ALJ rendered an
unfavorable decision denying both of Mr. Goins's claims
for benefits. Id. at 126. However, the record
indicates that Mr. Goins did not pursue this decision any
further. Id. at 18. Instead, Mr. Goins
filed a new application for Title II disability insurance
benefits and Title XVI supplemental social security on May 7,
2014, alleging disability beginning on January 9, 2014 in
both claims. Id. Goins's new claims were
initially denied by an Administrative Law Judge on September
3, 2014, and then denied again upon reconsideration on
September 12, 2014. Id. Subsequently, the ALJ
conducted a hearing with Goins and counsel, and the ALJ
issued a final decision ultimately denying both of
Goins's claims for benefits on November 13, 2015.
Id. Mr. Goins filed a Request for Review of Decision
Order on November 27, 2015, and the case was remanded to the
ALJ. Id. Upon remand, the ALJ found Mr. Goins was
not disabled prior to November 2, 2015, but became disabled
on November 2, 2015, and his condition was expected to last
for twelve continuous months. Id. at 19. The ALJ
determined Mr. Goins had not become disabled on January 9,
2014, but had become disabled upon a change in his age
category on November 2, 2015. Id. at 18-19, 30-31.
evaluate a claim of disability for both Title II disability
insurance benefit claims and Title XVI supplemental security
income claims, an ALJ conducts a five-step analysis.
Compare 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520 (disability
insurance benefit claim) with 20 C.F.R. §
416.920 (claims for supplemental security
income). First, if a claimant is performing a
substantial gainful activity, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(b). Second, if a claimant does not have any
impairment or combination of impairments which significantly
limit his physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities, he does not have a severe impairment and is not
“disabled” as defined by the regulations. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(c). Third, if a claimant's
impairments meet or equal one of the impairments listed in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, he is
“disabled.” C.F.R. § 404.1530(d). Before
moving on to the fourth step, the ALJ must use all of the
relevant evidence in the record to determine the
claimant's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), which assess an individual's ability
to perform certain physical and metal work activities on a
sustained basis despite any impairment experienced by the
individual. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e); 20
C.F.R. § 404.1545.
the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has the RFC to
perform the requirements of his past relevant work, and if a
claimant's impairments do not prevent him from doing past
relevant work, he is not “disabled.” 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(e). Fifth, if a claimant's impairments
(considering his RFC, age, education, and past work) prevent
him from doing other work that exists in the national
economy, then he is “disabled.” 20 C.F.R. §
step four of the analysis, “the claimant bears the
burden of proving the existence and severity of limitations
caused by her impairments and the fact that she is precluded
from performing her past relevant work.” Jones v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir.
2003). At step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to
identify a significant number of jobs that accommodate the
claimant's profile, but the claimant retains the ultimate
burden of proving his lack of residual functional capacity.
Id.; Jordan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 548
F.3d 417, 423 (6th Cir. 2008).
outset of this case, the ALJ determined that Goins met the
insured status requirements of the Social Security Act
through September 30, 2016. Tr. 19, 21; see also 20
C.F.R. § 404.131. Then at step one, ALJ Isaacs found Mr.
Goins had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
the alleged disability onset date, January 9, 2014. Tr. 21.
At step two, the ALJ found Mr. Goins to suffer from the
following severe impairments: other arthopathy in the right
shoulder with mild degenerative joint disease, degenerative
disk disease of the cervical spine with radiculopathy, mild
intellectual disability/borderline intellectual functioning,
anxiety, and depression. Id. at 21-22. At step
three, the ALJ determined his combination of impairments did
not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments in
20 C.F.R. Part 404 or Part 416. Id. at 22. Before
moving on to step four, the ALJ considered the record and
determined that Mr. Goins possessed the following residual
Mr. Goins has the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)
except he can no more than occasionally flex or rotate his
neck; no more than occasionally reach overhead bilaterally;
no more than occasionally push and pull using his dominant
right upper extremity; cannot climb robes, ladders and
scaffolds; can no more than occasionally crawl; he has a
marginal education and can only carry out simple, routine
tasks (learned in less than 30 days) and learned through
short demonstration or oral instruction when learning new
tasks; and no more than occasionally tolerate changes in the
Id. at 24-25. After explaining his RFC, the ALJ
found at step four that, based on this RFC, his age,
education, and work experience, there are several jobs in the
national economy that Mr. Goins could have performed prior to
November 2, 2015. Id. at 30. Accordingly, the ALJ
found at step five that Mr. Goins was not disabled prior to
November 2, 2015, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(g) and 416.920(g). Id. However, the ALJ
also found, on November 2, 2015, when Mr. Goins's age
category changed, he became disabled, and his condition was
expected to last for twelve continuous months. Id.
the partially favorable decision, Mr. Goins timely appealed
to the Appeals Council. However, the Appeals Council denied
review on October 26, 2016, and Mr. Goins now seeks judicial
review in this Court. [R. 17-2 at 2.] He specifically appeals
the determination that he was not disabled beginning January
Court's review is generally limited to whether there is
substantial evidence in the record to support the ALJ's
decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Wright v.
Massanari, 321 F.3d 611, 614 (6th Cir. 2003);
Shelman v. Heckler, 821 F.2d 316, 319-20 (6th Cir.
1987). “Substantial evidence” is “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.” Cutlip v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286
(6th Cir. 1994) (citing Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). The substantial evidence standard
“presupposes that there is a zone of choice within
which [administrative] ...