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Brown v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

April 2, 2018

WHITNEY BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Whitney Brown (DE 13) and Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (DE 15). Brown brought this action under Section 405(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying her claim for Supplemental Security Income and Disabled Adult Child Benefits, as provided under Title II and XVI of the Social Security Act. The Court, having reviewed the record, will affirm the Commissioner's decision.

         I. Overview of the Process

         To determine whether a claimant has a compensable disability under the Social Security Act, the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) applies a five step sequential process. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(1), (4); see also Miller v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 81 F.3d 825, 835 n.6 (6th Cir. 2016) (describing the five-step evaluation process). The five steps, in summary, are:

Step 1: If the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, the claimant is not disabled.
Step 2: If the claimant does not have a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment-i.e., an impairment that significantly limits his or her physical or mental ability to do basic work activities-the claimant is not disabled.
Step 3: If the claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity and is suffering from a severe impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and his or her impairment meets or equals a listed impairment, the claimant is presumed disabled without further inquiry.
Step 4: If the claimant's impairment does not prevent him or her from doing his or her past relevant work, the claimant is not disabled.
Step 5: If the claimant can make an adjustment to other work, the claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot make an adjustment to other work, the claimant is disabled.

Sorrell v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 656 Fed.Appx.. 162, 169 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Rabbers v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 582 F.3d 647, 652 (6th Cir. 2009)).

         If, at any step in the process, the ALJ concludes that the claimant is or is not disabled, the ALJ can then complete the “determination or decision and [the ALJ] do[es] not go on to the next step.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). In the first four steps of the process the claimant bears the burden of proof. Sorrell, 656 Fed.Appx.. at 169 (quoting Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003)). If the claim proceeds to step five, however, “the burden shifts to the Commissioner to identify a significant number of jobs in the economy that accommodate the claimant's residual functional capacity . . . and vocational profile.” Id. (internal citations omitted); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g)(1).

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff Whitney Brown was born in 1991. (Administrative Record (“AR” 676). She is married and lives with her husband and three children. (AR 687-88). She has a GED and has completed some college coursework. (AR 677, 692). Brown previously worked as a registered nurse ...


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