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Blackburn v. Berryhill

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

April 15, 2019

RALEIGH PETE BLACKBURN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgement. (DE 13 and 15). The Plaintiff, Raleigh Pete Blackburn, 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 from May 2014 through June 2016. (DE 1 at 2.) 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

         In the present case, Blackburn filed an application for disability insurance benefits, alleging a disability beginning on May 5, 2014. (Administrative Record (“AR”) at 18.) The claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. (AR at 18). Thereafter, Blackburn requested a hearing, which was held in front of an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (AR at 18.) Following the hearing, the ALJ determined that Blackburn was not disabled from May 5, 2014 through June 1, 2016. (AR at 23.) However, the ALJ concluded that Blackburn became disabled beginning on June 1, 2016. (AR at 28.) Blackburn is now contesting the ALJ's determination that he was not disabled from May 5, 2014 through June 1, 2016. (DE 1 at 3.)

         This Court's review of the decision by the ALJ 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 partially denying Blackburn'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 May 5, 2014. (AR at 20.)

         At step two, the ALJ determined that since the alleged onset date of disability, May 5, 2014, Blackburn has suffered severe impairments of “degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)/black lung disease, obesity, and bilateral hearing loss.” (AR at 20).

         At step three, the ALJ found that, prior to June 1, 2016, Blackburn did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. § Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (AR at 22.)

         Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that Blackburn had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567 (b). (AR at 23.) The ALJ found that Blackburn was able to stand or walk for four hours-alternating between sitting and standing in place every 30 minutes; occasionally balance; and reach in front laterally at chest level. (AR at 23.) Consequently, the ALJ determined that, prior to June 1, 2016, Blackburn could perform light work in a non-production-oriented work setting. (AR at 23.)

         At step four, the ALJ found that Blackburn was unable to perform his past relevant work as a blaster pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1565. (AR at 27.)

         At step five, the ALJ determined that prior to June 1, 2016, Blackburn retained the ability to perform other jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy and therefore, was not disabled. (AR at 27.)

         ANALYSIS

         Blackburn challenges the ALJ's finding that he was not disabled prior to June 2016. (DE 1 at 3.) He argues that controlling weight should have been given to his treating physician's opinion that he was disabled and unable to perform “any ...


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