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Coppage v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

January 5, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT



         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (DN 26). For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Objection is OVERRULED, the Magistrate Judge's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation (“R. & R.”) (DN 23) is ADOPTED, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (DN 17) is DENIED AS MOOT, and Plaintiff's Complaint (DN 1) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Disability

         In April 2014, Plaintiff Todd Anthony Coppage (“Plaintiff”) applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income alleging he had become disabled on March 27, 2014, as a result of diabetes, heart disease, and left-eye blindness. (Administrative R. 185, 190, 213, DN 12-1 to DN 12-11 [hereinafter R.]). On May 14, 2014, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) notified Plaintiff that his benefits claims had been denied. (R. at 119-22). Plaintiff requested reconsideration via case review on July 14, 2014. (R. at 126). On October 14, 2014, the SSA notified Plaintiff that an independent review by a physician and disability examiner in the state agency had found the previous denial of benefits to be proper. (R. at 127-33). Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge on November 19, 2014. (R. at 141-42). On January 7, 2016, Plaintiff participated in a video hearing before Administrative Law Judge Bonnie Kittinger (“ALJ”). (R. at 1-36). The ALJ denied the claim, reasoning that Plaintiff had not been under a disability from March 27, 2014, through February 11, 2016, the date of the decision. (R. at 46-65).

         B. ALJ's Decision

         In reaching her decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's application under the five-step sequential evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner. (R. at 46-65). First, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 27, 2014, the alleged onset date. (R. at 51). Second, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's “ischemic heart disease; residuals status post fractures of the right lower extremity, pelvis, and vertebrae; and obesity” were “severe” impairments within the meaning of the regulations. (R. at 51). The ALJ also found that Plaintiff's “osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, blindness in the left eye, gastroesophageal reflux disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, and status post healed open wound of the right lower extremity” and depression diagnosis were “non-severe” impairments within the meaning of the regulations. (R. at 52). Third, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in Appendix 1.[1] (R. at 53). Fourth, the ALJ found Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform a restricted range of light work, subject to limitations.[2] (R. at 53- 54). Relying on testimony from a vocational expert, the ALJ found Plaintiff unable to perform any of his past relevant work as a factory extruder operator and maintenance worker. (R. at 58). Fifth, the ALJ considered Plaintiff's residual functional capacity, age, education, and past work experience as well as testimony from the vocational expert. (R. at 58). The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was capable of performing a significant No. of jobs that exist in the national economy, and has not been under a “disability, ” as defined in the Social Security Act, [3] since the filing date of his application. (R. at 58-59). Plaintiff filed a request for review, which the Appeals Council denied. (R. at 44-45, 112-18).

         C. Plaintiff's Federal Claim

         PLAINTIFF filed suit in this Court seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision. (Compl., DN 1). Following the filing of the administrative record and fact and law summaries from each party, Magistrate Judge Brennenstuhl recommended that the final decision of the Commissioner be affirmed. (R. & R. 1, 10).

         PLAINTIFF objected to Magistrate Judge Brennenstuhl's recommendation, and the Commissioner responded. (Pl.'s Obj., DN 26; Def.'s Resp. Pl.'s Obj., DN 27). This matter is ripe for adjudication.


         The Court has jurisdiction to examine the record that was before the Commissioner on the date of the Commissioner's final decision and to enter judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing that decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).


         District courts review the parts of a magistrate judge's R. & R. to which objections are raised de novo, and, in doing so, may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the R. & R. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). This differs from the standard applied to the Commissioner's decision. That decision, rendered by an ALJ, is reviewed to determine “whether it is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards.” Rogers v.Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales,402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB,305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). Where substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision, a court is obliged to affirm. Siterlet v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 823 F.2d ...

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