United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
WILLIE A. JONES PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. Stivers, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's
Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation (DN 17). 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 16) is
ADOPTED, and Plaintiff's Complaint (DN
1) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
February 2013, Plaintiff Willie A. Jones
(“Plaintiff”) applied for disability insurance
benefits alleging he had become disabled on September 23,
2012, as a result of back and spinal injuries.
(Administrative R. 216-222, DN 8-1 to DN 8-10 [hereinafter
R.]). On July 11, 2013, the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) notified Plaintiff that his benefits
claims had been denied. (R. at 121-36, 155-58). Plaintiff
requested reconsideration on August 30, 2013. (R. at 162-63).
On October 8, 2013, 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 137-54, 164-71). Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge on October 9,
2013. (R. at 172-74). On November 13, 2014, Plaintiff
participated in a hearing before Administrative Law Judge
Roland D. Mather (“ALJ”). (R. at 86-120). The ALJ
denied the claim, reasoning that Plaintiff had not been under
a disability from September 23, 2012, through April 17, 2015,
the date of the decision. (R. at 59-85).
reaching his decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's
application under the five-step sequential evaluation process
promulgated by the Commissioner. (R. at 62-85). First, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since September 23, 2012, the alleged onset
date. (R. at 64). Second, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff's “degenerative disc disease,
polyneuropathy, myopathy, and obesity” were
“severe” impairments within the meaning of the
regulations. (R. at 64-67). 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 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix
(R. at 67). Fourth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity to perform light work, subject
to limitations.(R. at 67-76). Relying on testimony from a
vocational expert, the ALJ found Plaintiff unable to perform
any of his past relevant work as a jailer. (R. at 76). 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 76-77). 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,  since the filing date of his
application. (R. at 76-77). Plaintiff filed a request for
review, which the Appeals Council denied. (R. at 1-6, 52-53,
Plaintiff's Federal Claim
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 Lindsay
recommended that the final decision of the Commissioner be
affirmed. (R. & R. 9).
filed his objection to Magistrate Judge Lindsay's R.
& R., and the Commissioner responded. (Pl.'s Obj., DN
17; Def.'s Resp. Pl.'s Obj., DN 19). This matter is
ripe for adjudication.
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).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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 918,
920 (6th Cir. 1987) (citation omitted). A court should not
attempt to second-guess the factfinder with respect to
conflicts of ...