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Koref v. Berryhill

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

September 12, 2018

JON KOREF, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment (DE 12; 14). The Plaintiff, Jon Koref, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision denying his claim for Disability Insurance Benefits. The Court, having reviewed the record, will affirm the Commissioner's decision because it is supported by substantial evidence and was decided by the proper legal standards.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied Koref's claim (Administrative Record (“AR”) 21) and Koref now petitions this Court to review the decision of the presiding ALJ. The Court's review of the Commissioner's decision is limited to determining whether it “is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards.” Rabbers v. Comm'r Soc. Sec., 582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir. 2009).

         In denying Koref's claim, the ALJ engaged in the five-step sequential process set forth in the regulations under the Social Security Act (the “Act”). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(e); see Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 529 (6th Cir. 1997).

         At step one, the ALJ determined that the claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 26, 2013, the alleged onset date. (AR at 23.)

         At step two, the ALJ determined that Koref suffers from a bipolar disorder/mood disorder, a severe impairment (20 CFR 404.1520(c)) (AR at 24.) Conversely, the ALJ classified Koref's status post excision, obstructive sleep apnea, type II diabetes, and history of squamous cell carcinoma as nonsevere impairments. (AR at 24.)

         At step three, the ALJ found 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 pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.125, and 404.1526). (AR at 25.)

         The ALJ determined that Moore has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform “simple, routine work tasks” and “can maintain attention as well as concentration for two-hour segments during an eight-hour work day.” (AR at 27.) In addition, the ALJ noted that Koref “can adapt to gradual changes in a routine work environment, ” but should not be required to meet “fast-paced production quotas or goals.” (AR at 27.)

         At step four, the ALJ found that Koref is unable to perform his past relevant work as a truck driver or a stock clerk pursuant to 20 CFR 404.1565. (AR at 29.)

         At step five, the ALJ determined that while Koref could not perform any past, relevant work, he retains the ability to perform other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. (AR at 29.) Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Koref is not disabled.

         ANALYSIS

         Koref raises three objections to the ALJ's decision. He first argues that the ALJ improperly discounted his treating physician, Dr. Welch's medical opinion. Second, Koref contends that the ALJ failed to consider his anxiety as a distinct impairment (AR at 17.) And finally, Koref's third argument suggests that the ALJ erred in finding that his symptom testimony lacked credibility. The Court agrees with the ALJ's determinations on all three of these issues.

         I. The ALJ Did Not Err in Discounting the ...


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