United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. HOOD, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Robbie Lee Phillips brings this matter under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) seeking judicial review of an administrative decision
of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security. Specifically,
the Plaintiff claims that the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) failed to consider relevant medical
evidence in the record and failed to consider the entire
record, constituting reversible error. The Court, having
reviewed the record and the cross motions for summary
judgment filed by the parties, will AFFIRM
the Commissioner's decision because the ALJ provided
enough information in her written decision to demonstrate
that she made a reasoned decision that is supported by
substantial evidence in the record.
Standard for Determining Disability
the Social Security Act, a disability is defined as
“inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). In determining disability, an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) uses a five-step analysis.
See Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469,
474 (6th Cir. 2003). Step One considers whether the claimant
is still performing substantial gainful activity; Step Two,
whether any of the claimant's impairments are
“severe”; Step Three, whether the impairments
meet or equal a listing in the Listing of Impairments; Step
Four, whether the claimant can still perform past relevant
work; and, if necessary, Step Five, whether significant
numbers of other jobs exist in the national economy which the
claimant can perform. As to the last step, the burden of
proof shifts from the claimant to the Commissioner.
Id.; see also Preslar v. Sec'y of Health
& Human Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).
Procedural and Factual History
filed an application for disability insurance benefits (DIB)
and supplemental security income (SSI) on March 18, 2014,
alleging disability as of May 5, 2011. [TR 199]. Phillips
alleged disability due to lower back pain, depression, high
blood pressure, and anxiety. [TR 225]. Phillips's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Relevant Medical Evidence
Medical Evidence Related to Back and Leg Pain
submitted medical evidence from his primary care physician,
Dr. Stephen Green. Dr. Green treated Phillips for back and
leg pain, depression, and anxiety. [TR 296-457, 460-68,
576-90, 602-29, 649-57]. Phillips was also treated on
numerous occasions by an advanced practice registered nurse
(“APRN”), Leann Brown, who worked with Dr. Green.
[See generally id.].
2011, Phillips presented to Dr. Green with severe leg and
back pain. [TR 306]. Dr. Green's examination notes report
but that Phillips had “good flexion and extension and
lateral bending of the spine and rotation, but stiffness
[was] noted in all these joints.” [TR 306]. Phillips
was prescribed Lortab, Flexeril, Naprosyn, and a tapering
dose of Prednisone. [Tr 305].
study was conducted on Phillips's lumbar spine. The MRI
showed disc protrusions of differing sizes at ¶ 4/5 and
L5/S1 and “facet hypertrophy resulting in moderate
bilateral neural foraminal stenosis.” [TR 456]. Dr.
Green adjusted Phillips's medications to control his back
pain and referred Phillips to a neurologist. [TR 303-04].
Phillips was treated by Dr. James R. Bean, a neurosurgeon.
[TR 469-71]. Dr. Bean noted that Phillips complained of back
pain that radiated to his legs and bothered him whether he is
standing, sitting, or lying down. [TR 470]. Dr. Bean
determined that the MRI showed a degenerative disc bulge at
¶ 4-5 and a mild degenerative disc at ¶ 5-S1. [TR
469]. Still, Dr. Bean said that, “There is no
instability, stenosis, dural or nerve root compression or
other correctible cause of back pain. Unfortunately, there is
little I have to offer him for his back[-]pain
continued treatment with Dr. Green, who noted tenderness at
the L4 to S2 vertebrae. [TR 300]. Moreover, Phillips reported
that he was unable to work due to his back pain.
[Id.]. Dr. Green recommended that Phillips apply for
disability benefits due to “multiple problems.”
October 2011, Phillips completed a state agency pain and
daily activities questionnaire. [TR 232-36]. Phillips
reported pain all over but that the pain was particularly
severe in his lower back and legs. [TR 232]. Furthermore,
Phillips reported taking numerous medications but indicated
that the medication does not completely relieve his pain. [TR
233]. Phillips also stated that he had worked in construction
but had to quit due to his pain and that he struggled putting
his shoes and socks on but that he did perform some
householdchores infrequently. [TR 235].
2011, Phillips saw Dr. Anjum Bux, an anesthesiologist and
pain management specialist, for severe pain radiating from
his lower back down both legs. [TR 482]. Dr. Bux treated
Phillips with two lumbar epidural steroid injections. [TR
early 2012, Dr. Green noted that Phillips had low back
tenderness with reduced range of motion, but that Phillips
had full leg strength. [TR 298]. Dr. Green continued to treat
Phillips's constant back pain with various prescription
medications, including Lortab, Methadone, Naprosyn, and
Flexeril. [TR 298]. Still, at this medical visit, Dr. Green
noted that “Robbie looks better. He is more perky. He
is making eye contact and actually ...