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Jones v. Berryhill

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

April 25, 2018

CHARLES LEON JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Henry R. Wilhoit, Jr. United State District Judge.

         Plaintiff has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) to challenge a final decision of the Defendant denying Plaintiffs application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits. The Court having reviewed the record in this case and the dispositive motions filed by the parties, finds that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge is supported by substantial evidence and should be affirmed.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff filed his current application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits in July 2011, alleging disability beginning on July 1, 2011, due to nerve damage, disc problems in his lower back and depression (Tr. 245). He later amended his date of alleged onset to June 21, 2015 (Tr. 57).

         His application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Thereafter, upon request by Plaintiff, an administrative hearing was conducted by Administrative Law Judge Greg Holsclaw(hereinafter "ALJ"). At the hearing, Jackie Rogers, a vocational expert (hereinafter "VE"), appeared and testified.

         At the hearing, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.920, the ALJ performed the following five-step sequential analysis in order to determine whether the Plaintiff was disabled:

Step 1: If the claimant is performing substantial gainful work, he is not disabled.
Step 2: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work, his impairment(s) must be severe before he can be found to be disabled based upon the requirements in 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(b).
Step 3: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work and has a severe impairment (or impairments) that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and his impairments (or impairments) meets or medically equals a listed impairment contained in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4, the claimant is disabled without further inquiry.
Step 4: If the claimant's impairment (or impairments) does not prevent him from doing his past relevant work, he is not disabled.
Step 5: Even if the claimant's impairment or impairments prevent him from performing his past relevant work, if other work exists in significant numbers in the national economy that accommodates his residual functional capacity and vocational factors, he is not disabled.

         The ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. Plaintiff has a 9th grade education and past relevant work as a forklift operator, merchandise deliverer and cigarette stamping machine off-bearer (Tr. 281). He was 45 years old on the alleged disability onset date (Tr. 32).

         At Step 1 of the sequential analysis, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of disability (Tr. 26). Plaintiff provided varying accounts of why he stopped working in 2011. He testified at the hearing that he stopped working because he injured himself in June 2011, by falling while carrying a basket of laundry (Tr. 55). But in August 2014, Plaintiff reported he quit his job in 2011, because the "company sold out" (Tr. 423).

         The ALJ then determined, at Step 2, that Plaintiff suffers from degeneration of the lumbar spine and depression, which he found to be "severe" within the ...


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