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Townsend v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

January 3, 2018

RITA TOWNSEND, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Colin Lindsay, Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court is the complaint (DN 1) of plaintiff Rita Townsend (“plaintiff”). In her complaint, plaintiff seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“the Commissioner”). See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2012) (“Any individual, after any final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security . . . may obtain a review of such decision by a civil action commenced within sixty days after the mailing to him of notice of such decision . . . .”). Plaintiff filed a Fact and Law Summary (DN 17). The Commissioner also filed a Fact and Law Summary (DN 19).

         The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to enter judgment in this case with direct review by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the event an appeal is filed (DN 16.) Therefore, this matter is ripe for review. For the reasons set forth below, the final decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff protectively filed an application for disability insurance and supplemental social security benefits on February 12, 2013, alleging that she became disabled on February 12, 2013. (Tr. 96, 459.) On March 16, 2015 Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) William C. Zuber conducted a hearing on both applications. Plaintiff was present and represented by counsel, Nathan Haney. Tricia Oakes, a vocational expert, also testified by telephone. In a decision dated July 14, 2015, the ALJ engaged in the five-step evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner to determine whether an individual is disabled. In doing so, the ALJ made these findings.

1. Plaintiff met the insured requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2018. (Tr. at 21.)
2. Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 12, 2013, the alleged onset date. (Id.)
3. Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: morbid obesity; degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”); congestive heart failure; depression; and anxiety. (Id.)
4. Plaintiff 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. (Id. at 24.)
5. Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a) and § 416.967(a) except no more than occasional stooping and crouching and no crawling, kneeling, climbing ladders, ropes, scaffolds, exposure to dust, fumes, gases or odors, temperature extremes, humidity, dangerous machinery or unprotected heights. Plaintiff can perform simple unskilled routine tasks with occasional contact with coworkers and supervisors, no contact with the general public, and rare and gradually introduced changes in the routine work environment while sustaining concentration, persistence, or pace for two-hour periods at a time. (Id. at 25.)
6. Plaintiff is unable to perform any past relevant work. (Id. at 27.)
7. Plaintiff was born on September 19, 1967 and was 45-years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 45-49, on the alleged disability onset date. (Id. at 28.)
8. Plaintiff has a limited education and is able to communicate in English. (Id.)
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that plaintiff is not disabled, whether or not plaintiff has transferable job skills. (Id.)
10. Considering plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that she can perform. (Id.)
11. Plaintiff has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from February 12, 2013, through the ...

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