United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. Reeves United States District Judge
matter is pending for consideration of cross-motions for
summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Kyle Napier and Defendant
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security
(“the Commissioner”). [Record Nos. 1');">13, 1');">15] Napier
contends that the ALJ assigned to his case did not properly
evaluate his subjective complaints of pain and that the
ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence.
He asks the Court to enter an award of benefits or,
alternatively, to remand the matter for a new administrative
hearing. The Commissioner, however, argues that the ALJ
properly evaluated the evidence and that the ALJ's
decision should be affirmed because it is supported by
examining all relevant arguments that have been properly
presented, the Court will grant the Commissioner's motion
and deny the relief sought by Napier.
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“the Act”) on January 1');">11');">1, 201');">16. [See
Administrative Transcript, “Tr.” 1');">17.] He
previously filed a disability application on November 9,
201');">12, but ALJ Tommye Mangus issued an unfavorable decision on
the prior claim. [Tr. 61');">1-77] In his current application,
Napier alleged a disability onset date of April 7, 201');">12,
which he later amended to January 1');">11');">1, 201');">16. [Tr. 21');">19] The
Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied his
application initially and upon reconsideration. [Tr. 1');">106,
1');">127] Napier then requested a hearing before an ALJ. [Tr. 1');">158]
ALJ Brandie Hall issued a written opinion following the
administrative hearing, finding that Napier was not disabled.
[Tr. 1');">14-39] The Appeals Council subsequently denied
Napier's request for review. [Tr. 1');">1-8]
has exhausted his administrative remedies and this matter is
ripe for review under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
was 42 years-old at the time of the ALJ's decision. He
previously worked as a truck driver and bulldozer operator.
[Tr. 47-48] Napier attended school through the 8th grade.
[Tr. 251');">1] He obtained a commercial driver's license, but
it expired in 201');">15. [Tr. 251');">1] Napier currently resides with
his wife and adult son. [Tr. 52]
previously filed an application for benefits in 201');">12 for an
alleged disability beginning April 7, 201');">12. [Tr. 64] As noted
above, an unfavorable decision was rendered by ALJ Tommye
Mangus. [Tr. 61');">1] ALJ Mangus found that Napier had severe
impairments of depression, anxiety, a history of
polysubstance disorder, and mild lumbar spine degenerative
changes. [Tr. 66] The ALJ concluded that Napier had the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
medium work with some exceptions. [Tr. 72-73] ALJ Hall noted
in her current decision that she was bound by ALJ Mangus'
prior decision. [Tr. 1');">17]
was admitted to Harlan ARH Hospital for suicidal ideations on
April 20, 201');">15. [Tr. 541');">1] He was then transferred to Harlan
Psychiatric Center. [Tr. 543] Napier met with Dr. Syed M.
Raza and advised that he hears voices telling him to kill
himself and that he has been having panic attacks. [Tr. 546]
He rated his depression as a 7 out of 1');">10, his pain as a 9 out
of 1');">10, and anxiety as a 8 out of 1');">10. [Tr. 546] Dr. Raza noted
that Napier had a previous suicide attempt in 2009, and he
had been noncompliant with his care. [Tr. 547] He was
discharged on April 27, 201');">15. [Tr. 550]
was treated at Elite Health Care for back, neck, and hip pain
in November and December 201');">15. [Tr. 597] He had been treated
at this location for eight years but stopped in 201');">13 due to
the cost associated with his care and traveling to Tennessee.
[Tr. 26] Lauren Moss, APRN-C, reviewed his previous MRI from
March 7, 201');">13, which revealed a broad-based central disc
protrusion, mild stenosis, and a minor posterior disc bulge.
[Tr. 597] Napier received pain medication, including
Neurontin and Percocet, to treat his ailments. [Tr. 597]
Ross, Ph.D., reviewed Napier's file on May 1');">13, 201');">16. [Tr.
1');">100] Dr. Ross found that Napier's spine disorders were
non-severe, but he had a severe affective disorder and a
severe substance addiction. [Tr. 99] Ross opined that
Napier's ability to remember locations and work-like
procedures, ability to understand and remember very short
simple instructions, ability to maintain attention and
concentration for extended periods, ability to sustain an
ordinary routine, and ability to make simple-work related
were not significantly limited by his impairments. [Tr.
Ross also explained that Napier's ability to perform
activities within a schedule, maintain regular attendance,
and be punctual within customary tolerances, and his ability
to complete a normal workday without interruptions from
psychologically based symptoms and to perform at a consistent
pace were not significantly limited by his impairments. [Tr.
1');">102] Ross explained that Napier's ability to understand
and remember detailed instructions was moderately limited by
his impairments. [Tr. 1');">101');">1]
Culbertson, M.D., reviewed Napier's file in September
201');">16 and did not affirm the initial assessment conducted by
Anna Duval, SDM. [Tr. 1');">11');">19-1');">121');">1] Dr. Duval initially reviewed
Napier's file and concluded that he had the physical RFC
to do heavy/very heavy work. [Tr. 1');">104] But Dr. Culbertson
found that Napier could occasionally lift or carry 50 pounds
and frequently carry or lift 25 pounds. [Tr. 1');">120] He
explained that Napier could sit or stand with normal breaks
for about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. [Tr. 1');">120] Dr.
Culbertson noted that Napier could frequently climb
ramps/stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. [Tr. 1');">120] And
he could occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds.
[Tr. 1');">120] Dr. Culbertson concluded that Napier had the RFC to
perform medium work. [Tr. 1');">120]
met with consultative examiner Leigh A. Ford, Ph.D., on May
9, 201');">16. [Tr. 627-29] At the time of this visit, his chief
complaints were back pain, arthritis, kidney disease, and
depression. [Tr. 627] Napier told Dr. Ford that he has been
receiving treatment for depression and that he had been
hospitalized once following a suicide attempt. [Tr. 628]
Napier also acknowledged that he takes pain medication and
was previously addicted to opioids, but stated had not abused
drugs since completing a rehabilitation program through drug
court in 201');">10. [Tr. 628] Dr. Ford observed that Napier's
motor activity was somewhat restless but that his memory
capacity appeared normal. [Tr. 628] She also found that
Napier's attention and concentration appeared to be
somewhat variable and his fund of knowledge appeared to be
average. [Tr. 628] Ford further noted Napier's mood
appeared flat and affect appeared pessimistic and depressed.
Ford concluded that Napier suffered from major depressive
disorder, with psychotic features and an unspecified
opioid-related disorder that was in remission. [Tr. 629] Ford
found, however, that Napier's ability to understand,
remember, and carry out instructions toward performance of
simple repetitive tasks was not affected by his impairments.
[Tr. 629] She explained that Napier's ability to sustain
attention and concentration is slightly limited by his
impairments. [Tr. 629] She further noted that Napier had
moderate to marked limitations in his ability to tolerate the
stress and pressure of day-to-day ...