United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. HALE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Mary Malone Logsdon filed this action seeking review of the
decision by the Commissioner of Social Security to deny her
application for disability-insurance benefits. (Docket No. 1)
Logsdon alleges disability due to arthritis and nervousness
caused by depression and anxiety. (D.N. 12-1, PageID # 498)
Logsdon has now moved for summary judgment, requesting that
the Court remand this case to the agency for payment of
benefits or further administrative proceedings. (D.N. 12;
D.N. 12-1) The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Colin
H. Lindsay for report and recommendation. (D.N. 11) Judge
Lindsay issued Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and
Recommendation on February 22, 2018, recommending that the
Commissioner's decision be affirmed. (D.N. 17) Logsdon
timely filed objections to Judge Lindsay's report and
recommendation. (D.N. 18) After careful consideration, the
Court concludes that only one of Logsdon's objections has
merit. Sustaining that objection, however, requires reversal
and remand of the case to the Commissioner of Social
August 5, 2013, Logsdon filed an application for
disability-insurance benefits. (D.N. 10-5, PageID # 292-98)
The Commissioner denied the application on November 7, 2013,
and again upon reconsideration on January 6, 2014. (D.N.
10-4, PageID # 171-74, 184-90) Logsdon thereafter requested a
hearing before an administrative law judge. (Id.,
PageID # 176) Administrative Law Judge John R. Price held a
hearing on April 21, 2015. (D.N. 10-2, PageID # 101-10) The
ALJ held another hearing via videoconference on August 13,
2015. (Id., PageID # 73-100) On October 7, 2015, the
ALJ issued an opinion finding Logsdon not disabled.
(Id., PageID # 51-71) The ALJ determined that
Logsdon possessed the residual functional capacity
(RFC) necessary to perform “light
work” as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b).
(Id., PageID # 60-65) Further, the ALJ found Logsdon
capable of performing her past relevant work as a
sewing-machine operator. (Id., PageID # 65) The
appeals council denied Logsdon's request for review on
October 26, 2016. (Id., PageID # 44-48)
filed this action on December 1, 2016, challenging the denial
of her application for disability-insurance benefits. (D.N.
1) Logsdon has moved for summary judgment (D.N. 12), arguing
that the ALJ erred in finding that her only severe
impairments were generalized arthritis and a history of
obesity, assessing her RFC, determining that she could
perform her past relevant work, and concluding that she was
not disabled. (D.N. 12-1) Magistrate Judge Colin H. Lindsay
issued a report and recommendation on February 22, 2018.
(D.N. 11; D.N. 17) Judge Lindsay recommends that this Court
affirm the Commissioner's decision. (D.N. 17, PageID #
559) As discussed below, the Court's disagreement with
the report and recommendation is limited to its analysis of
Logsdon's argument that the ALJ did not properly consider
her lack of insurance as a reason for her failure to obtain
medical treatment for some conditions. (See id., PageID #
547) Because the ALJ relied heavily upon Logsdon's lack
of treatment in concluding that her complaints regarding her
conditions were less than credible, however, remand is
reviewing a report and recommendation, this Court reviews de
novo “those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The Court may
adopt without review any portion of the report to which an
objection is not made. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140, 150 (1985). On review, the Court “may accept,
reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive
further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate
judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).
Accordingly, the Court will review de novo the portions of
Judge Lindsay's report and recommendation to which
Logsdon objects to determine whether relief is warranted.
detailed in Judge Lindsay's report and recommendation,
the Commissioner has promulgated regulations setting forth a
five-step sequential process for evaluating whether a
claimant is disabled. (D.N. 17, PageID # 542-43 (citing 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520)) Only steps four and five are at
issue in Logsdon's objections. (D.N. 18, PageID # 561,
573) At step four, the ALJ compares the claimant's RFC
with the physical and mental demands of her past relevant
work. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(f). If the claimant can still
do that kind of work, then the Commissioner will find that
she is not disabled, and the analysis ends there.
Id. The claimant has the burden of proof at step
four. Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d
525, 529 (6th Cir. 1997). At step five, the ALJ considers the
claimant's RFC with her age, education, and work
experience to determine whether she can make an adjustment to
other work. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g). If the claimant
cannot make such an adjustment, then the Commissioner will
find that she is disabled. Id. The Commissioner has
the burden of proof at step five. Walters, 127 F.3d at 529.
reviewing an ALJ's decision, the Court asks
“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 defined as ‘more than a scintilla of
evidence but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Id. (quoting
Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25
F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)). The Court “may not try
the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts in evidence, nor
decide questions of credibility.” Cohen v.
Sec'y of Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 964
F.2d 524, 528 (6th Cir. 1992) (quoting Garner v.
Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984)). Where
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision, the
Court “must affirm.” Staymate v. Comm'r
of Soc. Sec., 681 Fed.Appx. 462, 466 (6th Cir. 2017)
(citing Barker v. Shalala, 40 F.3d 789, 794 (6th
Cir. 1994)). Moreover, “[t]he findings of the [ALJ] are
not subject to reversal merely because there exists in the
record substantial evidence to support a different
conclusion.” Buxton v. Halter, 246 F.3d 762,
772-73 (6th Cir. 2001); see also Her v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d 388, 389-90 (6th Cir. 1999)
(“Even if the evidence could also support another
conclusion, the decision of the Administrative Law Judge must
stand if the evidence could reasonably support the conclusion
ALJ's RFC Assessment
Logsdon argues that the ALJ “erred as a matter of law
in assessing [her] RFC in Finding No. 5 of his decision and
this finding is not supported by substantial evidence.”
(D.N. 18, PageID # 562) Logsdon's objections identify
several issues with the ALJ's assessment; the Court will
discuss each one in turn.
challenges the ALJ's failure to find that she had severe
arthritis in her lower back, knees, and feet. (Id.)
Specifically, Logsdon argues that this severe arthritis
prevented her from standing for eight hours per day and
operating foot controls on a frequent basis, both of which
were a necessary part of her past relevant work.
(Id.) But the ALJ found that Logsdon had two severe
impairments: generalized arthritis and a history of obesity.
(D.N. 10-2, PageID # 56) After an ALJ finds one severe
impairment, he must continue with the remaining steps in his
disability evaluation. Maziarz v. Sec'y of Health
& Human Servs., 837 F.2d 240, 244 (6th Cir. 1987).
Thus, an ALJ does not commit reversible error by failing to
list additional severe impairments because she was already
required to consider all impairments, severe and nonsevere,
in the remaining steps of the analysis. See Kepke v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 636 Fed.Appx. 625, 634 (6th
Cir. 2016) (rejecting argument that ALJ reversibly erred by
failing to also list thyroid disease as a severe impairment
where ALJ found several other severe impairments). The record
here shows that the ALJ considered Logsdon's arthritis in
her knees, lower back, and feet when determining her RFC.
(D.N. 10-2, PageID # 60-65) The Court therefore agrees with
Judge Lindsay that the ALJ did not reversibly err in this
regard. (D.N. 17, PageID # 545-46) See Kepke, 636 Fed.Appx.
at 634 (concluding that ALJ did not reversibly err by failing
to list thyroid disease as severe impairment where record
showed that ALJ considered thyroid disease in determining
also argues that the ALJ wrongly found her subjective
complaints regarding her physical and mental limitations to
be less than credible, partly due to her lack of treatment
for those limitations. (D.N. 18, PageID # 562) Specifically,
Logsdon asserts that the ALJ and Judge Lindsay failed to
fully consider the fact that she lacked health insurance and
could not afford the ...