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Taylor v. Berryhill

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

January 9, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT


          Dave Whalin, Magistrate Judge

         The Commissioner of Social Security denied Quincy Taylor's (“Taylor”) application for supplemental security income benefits. Taylor seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Both Taylor (DN 15) and the Commissioner (DN 18)

         have filed a Fact and Law Summary. The parties have consented, under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge conducting all further proceedings in this case, including issuance of a memorandum opinion and entry of judgment, with direct review by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the event an appeal is filed. (DN 14).


         Quincy Taylor is 46 years old and lives in an apartment in Louisville, Kentucky. (Tr. 39). Taylor was in special education classes in high school, has been in and out of custody for years, and has only held temporary jobs, each lasting no more than a month. (Tr. 40, 51). According to Taylor, he has trouble walking, standing, and sitting because of pinched nerves in his shoulder (Tr. 42) and rods in his leg that were inserted during a surgery on his ACL (Tr. 46-47). Taylor also states he has trouble being in large groups of people, cannot watch television, and has occasional issues with seeing things and hearing things. (Tr. 53-54).

         Taylor applied for supplemental security income benefits (“SSI”) under Title XVI, claiming he became disabled on February 12, 2015 (Tr. 196), as a result of depression, chronic depressive disorder NOS, knee problems, muscle pain, and arthritis (Tr. 215). His application was denied initially (Tr. 79) and again on reconsideration (Tr. 95). Administrative Law Judge William C. Zuber (“ALJ Zuber”) conducted a hearing in Louisville, Kentucky, on October 17, 2016. (Tr. 35-36). Taylor attended the hearing with his attorney. (Id.). An impartial vocational expert also testified at the hearing. (Id.). The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on November 19, 2016. (Tr. 28).

         The ALJ applied the traditional five-step sequential analysis promulgated by the Commissioner, 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520, Kyle v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 609 F.3d 847, 855 (6th Cir. 2010), and found as follows. First, Taylor has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 14, 2015, the application date. (Tr. 18). Second, Taylor has the severe impairments of “degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, degenerative joint disease in the right knee and right shoulder, depression, and history of polysubstance abuse in remission.” (Id.). Third, none of Taylor's impairments or combination of impairments meets or medically equals the severity of a listed impairment from 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App'x 1. (Id.). Fourth, Taylor has the residual functional capacity to perform “less than a full range of light work” and is limited to:

simple, routine 1-3 step tasks that are non-fast paced or quota driven. He should be afforded the option to sit and/or stand every 30-45 minutes. He is able to occasionally climb ramps/stairs, stoop, crouch, crawl and kneel. He should avoid climbing ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. He is able to occasionally perform overhead reaching and occasional pushing and pulling with the right lower extremity. He is able to occasionally interact with coworkers and supervisors but should avoid contact with the general public. Any changes in the work routine should be rare and gradually introduced. He is able to sustain concentration, persistence and pace for 2-hour periods of time.

(Tr. 20). Additionally, Taylor has no past relevant work to consider. (Tr. 27). Fifth and finally, considering Taylor's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that he can perform.

         Taylor appealed the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 11). The Appeals Council declined review. (Tr. 1). At that point, the denial became the final decision of the Commissioner, and Taylor appealed to this Court. (DN 1).


         A. Standard of Review

         When reviewing the Administrative Law Judge's decision to deny disability benefits, the Court may “not try the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor decide questions of credibility.” Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). Instead, the Court's review of the Administrative Law Judge's decision is limited to an inquiry as to whether the Administrative Law Judge's findings were supported by substantial evidence, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Foster v. Halter, 279 F.3d 348, 353 (6th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted), and whether the Administrative Law Judge employed the proper legal standards in reaching his conclusion. See Landsaw v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 803 F.2d 211, 213 (6th Cir. 1986). Substantial evidence exists “when a ...

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