United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Whalin, Magistrate Judge
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)
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).
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).
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.
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.
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).
Standard of Review
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 ...