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Green v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

March 29, 2018

BRENDA L. GREEN, Plaintiff,


          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge United States District Court

          Plaintiff Brenda Green (“Green”) appeals the Commissioner's decision denying her application for supplemental security income (“SSI”) benefits and disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). (DN 10-2, #47.) For the reasons stated below, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision.

         I. Statement of Facts

          On November 18, 2013, Green filed an application for DIB and SSI. (DN 10-5, #300, 307.) The Commissioner denied her initial application and again upon reconsideration. (DN 10-3, #184, 217.) This was Green's second denial, as she had previously had an application for DIB and SSI denied following a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) on October 5, 2012. (Id. at #136.) Following the second denial, Green appeared before ALJ Candace A. McDaniel, who later issued an opinion denying Green's claim. (DN 10-2, #63.) In her written opinion, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2013.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 6, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
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 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1(20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she is allowed the option to sit or stand at 30 to 60 minutes intervals, taking no more than 1 to 3 minutes to change positions without leaving the workstation. She may not climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds but she may occasionally stoop, crouch, kneel, crawl, and climb ramps and stairs. She is able to understand, remember, and carry out simple and routine tasks but she should not be in a job that requires stringent production quota or assembly line pacing tasks.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a parking lot attendant. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from October 6, 2012, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(1) and 416.920(1)).

(Id. at 68-77.) The appeals council denied Green's request for review. (Id. at 47.)

         II. Standard of Review

         The Social Security Act authorizes payment of DIB and SSI to persons with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. §' 401 et seq. (Title II Disability Insurance Benefits), 1381 et seq. (Title XVI Supplemental Security Income). The term “disability” is defined as follows:

[An i]nability 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 continuous period of not less than twelve (12) months.

42 U.S.C. §' 423(d)(1)(A) (Title II), 1382c(a)(3)(A) (Title XVI); 20 C.F.R. '' 404.1505(a), 416.905(a); Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S. 212, 214 (2002); Abbott v. Sullivan, 905 F.2d 918, 923 (6th Cir. 1990). When a claimant files an application for DIB, the claimant must establish that he or she became "disabled" prior to the date his or her insured status expired. 42 U.S.C. § 423(a), (c); Moon v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1175, 1182 (6th Cir. 1990); Higgs v. Bowen, 880 F.2d 860, 862 (6th Cir. 1988) (per curiam).

         The Commissioner has promulgated regulations setting forth a five-step sequential evaluation process for evaluating a disability claim. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(1); Sullivan v. Finkelstein, 496 U.S. 617, 620 (1990). Steps two, three, four, and five are at issue here.

         At step two, the ALJ determines if the claimant has a “severe” impairment, and it is the claimant's burden to demonstrate that she does. 20 C.F.R. §§404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii); Higgs v. Bowen, 880 F.2d 860, 863 (6th Cir. 1988). To satisfy this burden, the claimant must show he or she suffers from a medically determinable physical or mental condition that satisfies the duration requirement, 20 C.F.R. §§404.1509, 416.909, and significantly limits his or her ability to do one or more basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. §§404.1520(a)(4)(ii) and (c), 416.920(a)(4)(ii) and (c); SSR 96-3p; SSR 96-4p; Higgs, 880 F.2d at ...

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