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Hodson v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

February 28, 2018

MARY HODSON, Plaintiff,



         Before the Court is the complaint (DN 1) of plaintiff Mary Hodson (“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 15) and supporting memorandum (DN 15-1). The Commissioner also filed a Fact and Law Summary (DN 18). Therefore, this matter is ripe for review.

         This matter was referred to the undersigned for the preparation of a report and recommendation. For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that the final decision of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED.


         Plaintiff protectively filed an application for disability insurance benefits alleging disability beginning July 23, 2013. (R. 99.) On December 10, 2015, Administrative Law Judge Patrick Kimberlin (“the ALJ”) conducted a hearing on this application. Plaintiff attended the hearing along with her attorney, Christopher Harrell. William Harpool, a vocational expert, testified at the hearing.

         In a decision dated January 26, 2016, 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. The claimant meets the insured requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2018. (R. 32.)
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 23, 2013, the alleged onset date. (Id.)
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: history of breast cancer status/post bilateral mastectomies and chemotherapy, with residuals; mild cognitive disorder; major depressive disorder; posttraumatic stress disorder; history of mild cerebral palsy since birth; panic disorder; and hypothyroidism. (Id.)
4. The claimant 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 33.)
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a) with no lifting over 10 pounds; no use of foot controls or pedals; no use of upper extremities above shoulder level; no climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; no exposure to hazards such as required driving, working at unprotected heights, or near dangerous machinery; no exposure to temperature extremes; simple routine job duties and instructions requiring only occasional work-related contact with coworkers and supervisors and no contact with the general public; and no kneeling or crawling and occasional to all other postural activities. (Id. at 35.)
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work. (Id. at 42.)
7. The claimant was born on April 3, 1970 and was 43 years old, which is defined as a younger individual, age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to a younger individual age 45-49. (Id.)
8. The claimant has at least a high school 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 the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills. (Id.)
10. Considering the claimant'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. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from July 23, 2013 through the date of this decision. (Id. at 43.)

         Plaintiff requested an appeal to the Appeals Council, which denied her request for review on December 22, 2016. (Id. at 2.) At that point, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 422.210(a); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(h) (discussing finality of the Commissioner's decision).


         The Social Security Act authorizes payment of disability insurance benefits to persons with disabilities. Social Security Act, Disability Insurance Benefits, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-34 (2012). An individual shall be considered disabled if “he is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a ...

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