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Hensley v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

March 13, 2019

BYRD HENSLEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HENRY R. WILLHOLT 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. 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 in May 2014, alleging disability beginning on September 3, 2010, due to sleep apnea, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and "nerves" (Tr. 231). This application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Thereafter, upon request by Plaintiff, an administrative hearing was conducted by Administrative Law Judge Diana Erickson (hereinafter "ALJ"), wherein Plaintiff, accompanied by counsel, testified. At the hearing, Jennifer Ruhnkle, a vocational expert (hereinafter "VE"), also 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 was 46 years old when he alleged he became disabled and 47 years old when his insured status for disability insurance benefits expired in December 2015. Plaintiff must establish that his disability began before his insured status expired; therefore, the time period at issue is between May 2014 and December 2015. 20 C.F.R. § 404.131(a) & (b).

         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 through his date last insured (Tr. 31).

         The ALJ then determined, at Step 2, that Plaintiff suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes mellitus, obesity, dysthymic disorder and depressive disorder, which he found to be "severe" within the meaning of the Regulations (Tr. 31-32).

         At Step 3, the ALJ found that Plaintiffs impairments did not meet or medically equal any ...


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