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Jones v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

January 2, 2018

PEPPER NICOLE JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HENRY R. WILHOIT JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) to challenge a final decision of the Defendant denying Plaintiffs application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits. The Court having reviewed the record in this case and the dispositive motions filed by the parties, and being otherwise sufficiently advised, for the reasons set forth herein, finds that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge is supported by substantial evidence and should be affirmed.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff filed her current application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits in June 2012, alleging disability since January 2010, due to plantar fasciitis, obesity, depression, osteoarthritis, lower disc degeneration, neck and right shoulder pain, persistent pain in right wrist, forearm, shoulder and neck, anxiety (Tr. 256). This application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Thereafter, upon request by Plaintiff, an administrative hearing was conducted by Administrative Law Judge Jonathon Stanley (hereinafter "ALJ"), wherein Plaintiff, accompanied by counsel, testified. At the hearing, Joyce P. Forrest, a vocational expert (hereinafter "VE"), also testified.

         At the hearing, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.920, the ALJ performed the following five-step sequential analysis in order to determine whether the Plaintiff was disabled:

Step 1: If the claimant is performing substantial gainful work, he is not disabled.
Step 2: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work, his impairments) must be severe before he can be found to be disabled based upon the requirements in 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(b).
Step 3: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work and has a severe impairment (or impairments) that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and his impairments (or impairments) meets or medically equals a listed impairment contained in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4, the claimant is disabled without further inquiry.
Step 4: If the claimant's impairment (or impairments) does not prevent him from doing his past relevant work, he is not disabled.
Step 5: Even if the claimant's impairment or impairments prevent him from performing his past relevant work, if other work exists in significant numbers in the national economy that accommodates his residual functional capacity and vocational factors, he is not disabled.

         The ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 21-34). Plaintiff was 39 years old when she claims her disability began and 44 years old at the time of the hearing decision. Her higher education consists of two years of college (Tr. 257). Her past relevant work experience consists of work as a retail manager, assistant manager and clerk (Tr. 257).

         At Step 1 of the sequential analysis, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of disability (Tr. 23).

         The ALJ then determined, at Step 2, that Plaintiff suffers from obesity; neck pain with radiculopathy; right shoulder and arm pain; degenerative arthritis of the forearm and wrists bilaterally with pain/tendinopathy; osteoarthritis affecting the shoulders and hands bilaterally, which he found to be "severe" within the meaning of the Regulations (Tr. 24).

         At Step 3, the ALJ found that Plaintiffs impairments did not meet or medically equal any of the listed impairments (Tr. 24). In doing so, the ALJ specifically considered Listings ...


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