United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Williams seeks judicial review of an administrative decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security, which denied her
claim for supplemental security income and disability
insurance benefits. Ms. Williams brings this action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), alleging various errors on the
part of the ALJ considering the matter. The Court, having
reviewed the record and for the reasons set forth herein,
will DENY Ms. William's Motion for
Summary Judgment and GRANT the
Kathy Williams initially filed an application for Title II
disability insurance benefits on June 5, 2013, alleging
disability beginning on May 6, 2010. [Transcript
(hereinafter, “Tr.”) 303.] Ms. Williams's
claims were initially denied by an Administrative Law Judge,
who subsequently conducted a hearing with Ms. Williams on
March 21, 2014. Id. at 264. On June 19, 2015, the
ALJ rendered an unfavorable decision denying Ms.
Williams's claims for benefits. Id. at 146.
evaluate a claim of disability for Title II disability
insurance benefit claims, an ALJ conducts a five-step
analysis. Compare 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520
(disability insurance benefit claim) with 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920 (claims for supplemental security
income). First, if a claimant is performing a
substantial gainful activity, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(b). Second, if a claimant does not have any
impairment or combination of impairments which significantly
limit his physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities, he does not have a severe impairment and is not
“disabled” as defined by the regulations. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(c). Third, if a claimant's
impairments meet or equal one of the impairments listed in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, he is
“disabled.” C.F.R. § 404.1530(d). Before
moving on to the fourth step, the ALJ must use all of the
relevant evidence in the record to determine the
claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC), which
assess an individual's ability to perform certain
physical and metal work activities on a sustained basis
despite any impairment experienced by the individual.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e); 20 C.F.R. §
the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has the RFC to
perform the requirements of his past relevant work, and if a
claimant's impairments do not prevent him from doing past
relevant work, he is not “disabled.” 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(e). Fifth, if a claimant's impairments
(considering his RFC, age, education, and past work) prevent
him from doing other work that exists in the national
economy, then he is “disabled.” 20 C.F.R. §
step four of the analysis, “the claimant bears the
burden of proving the existence and severity of limitations
caused by her impairments and the fact that she is precluded
from performing her past relevant work.” Jones v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir.
2003). At step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to
identify a significant number of jobs that accommodate the
claimant's profile, but the claimant retains the ultimate
burden of proving his lack of residual functional capacity.
Id.; Jordan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 548
F.3d 417, 423 (6th Cir. 2008).
outset of this case, the ALJ determined that Ms. Williams met
the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act
through March 31, 2017. Tr. 151; see also 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.131. Then at step one, the ALJ found Ms. Williams
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the
alleged disability onset date, May 6, 2010. Tr. 151. At step
two, the ALJ found Ms. Williams to suffer from the following
severe impairments: fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, obesity,
asthma, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Id. At
step three, the ALJ determined her combination of impairments
did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments
in 20 C.F.R. Part 404 or Part 416. Id. at 153.
Before moving on to step four, the ALJ considered the record
and determined that Ms. Williams possessed the following
residual functioning capacity:
[Ms. Williams] has the residual functional capacity to
perform a range of light work as defined in 20 C.F.R
404.1567(b) as follows: lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally
and ten pounds frequently; stand and walk six hours of an
eight hour day; sit six hours of an eight hour day;
frequently push and pull with the bilateral upper and lower
extremities up to the exertional limitations; frequently
reach overhead and in all other directions; frequently
handle, finger, and feel; occasionally climb ramps and stairs
but never ropes or scaffolds; and occasionally stoop, kneel,
crouch, or crawl. She should avoid all exposure to hazards
such as unprotected heights and moving machinery; should
avoid exposure to dust, fumes, and pulmonary irritants;
extreme cold and vibration; and should avoid all occupations
involving exposure to sunlight.
Id. at 153-54. After explaining the RFC, the ALJ
found at step four that, based on this RFC, her age,
education, and work experience, Ms. Williams is capable of
performing past relevant work as a data entry clerk, as well
as other jobs existing in the national economy. Id.
at 156. Accordingly, the ALJ found at step five that Ms.
Williams was not disabled from May 6, 2010, through the date
of the decision, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(f). Id. at 157.
the unfavorable decision of the ALJ, Ms. Williams appealed to
the Appeals Council. Her request for review was denied on
July 19, 2016. Id. at 1. Ms. Williams thereafter
filed this action on September 7, 2016. [R. 1.]
Court's review is generally limited to whether there is
substantial evidence in the record to support the ALJ's
decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Wright v.
Massanari, 321 F.3d 611, 614 (6th Cir. 2003);
Shelman v. Heckler, 821 F.2d 316, 319-20 (6th Cir.
1987). “Substantial evidence” is “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.” Cutlip v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286
(6th Cir. 1994) (citing Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). The substantial evidence standard
“presupposes that there is a zone of choice within
which [administrative] ...