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Damron v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington

April 12, 2018

JOSEPH DALE DAMRON 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 Joseph Dale Damron (DE 14) and Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (DE 16). Damron 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 (“the Commissioner”) denying his claim for and Supplemental Security Income, as provided under Title 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 F. App'x. 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 F. App'x. 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 Joseph Damron was born in 1969. (Administrative Record (“AR”) 42). He has a GED and, prior to his alleged disability, worked as a carpenter and handyman. (AR 42, 48-49). Damron applied for Supplemental Social Security Income on September 19, 2013 alleging a disability onset date of April 6, 2013. (AR 161-70). He claimed he suffered from an injured right arm, Chrohn's disease, diabetes, a cyst on his spleen, asthma, and a bad limp in his right leg. (AR 190). Damron's application was denied initially and on reconsideration. (AR 89-102). Damron then made a timely request for a hearing before an ALJ. (AR 120-22). Damron's hearing was held on September 9, 2015 before ALJ Jonathan Stanley. Damron appeared at the hearing in person, accompanied by counsel, and testified on his own behalf. ...


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