United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Brent Brennenstuhl, United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is the complaint (DN 1) of Jacqueline Caroline
Lawrence (“Plaintiff”) seeking judicial review of
the final decision of the Commissioner pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Both the Plaintiff (DN 16) and Defendant (DN
19) have filed a Fact and Law Summary. For the reasons that
follow, the final decision of the Commissioner is
AFFIRMED, and judgment is
GRANTED for the Commissioner.
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, the parties
have consented to the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge conducting all further proceedings in this case,
including issuance of a memorandum opinion and entry of
judgment, with direct review by the Sixth Circuit Court of
Appeals in the event an appeal is filed (DN 14). By Order
entered October 3, 2018 (DN 15), the parties were notified
that oral arguments would not be held unless a written
request therefor was filed and granted. No. such request was
protectively filed an application for Disability Insurance
Benefits on July 23, 2015 (Tr. 15, 172-78). Plaintiff alleged
that she became disabled on June 15, 2015, as a result of
carpal tunnel syndrome, bilaterally; protruding discs in the
lumbar spine; cancer survivor, double mastectomy; impinged
left shoulder and elbow that cannot be surgically repaired;
chronic migraines; high blood pressure; ulcers; muscle spasms
and pain in the cervical spine; and no lymph nodes in the
left side due to mastectomy (Tr. 15, 204). Administrative Law
Judge Jerry Lovitt (AALJ@) conducted a video hearing from
Louisville, Kentucky on September 20, 2017 (Tr. 15, 40-42).
Plaintiff was present and represented by Kirsten Brown, a
non-attorney representative (Id.). Jacqueline Vega
Velez testified as an impartial vocational expert during the
decision dated December 5, 2017 the ALJ evaluated this adult
disability claim pursuant to the five-step sequential
evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner (Tr.
15-27). At the first step, the ALJ acknowledged evidence
indicating that Plaintiff worked after the alleged disability
onset date but concluded the work activity did not rise to
the level of substantial gainful activity (Tr. 18). Thus, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since June 15, 2015, the alleged onset date
second step, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, left shoulder
degenerative joint disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, and
headaches (Tr. 18). Additionally, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff's hypertension, gastric ulcers, and depression
and anxiety were non-severe impairments (Tr. 18-19).
third step, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals one of the listed impairments in Appendix 1
(Tr. 19). The ALJ indicated that he considered whether
Plaintiff met or medically equaled the criteria of any
impairment listed in 1.00 and explained why he determined she
did not meet or medically equal Listings 1.02, 1.04, and 1.08
(Tr. 19-20). The ALJ also explained that Plaintiff did not
have any neurological deficits as described in any part of
Listing 11.01, including sustained disturbance of two or more
extremities (Tr. 20).
fourth step, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform less than a full range
of light work because she was limited to frequent climbing of
ramps/stairs, frequent balancing; limited to occasional
stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling; limited to no
climbing of ladders, ropes or scaffolds; limited to no
unprotected heights; limited to no more than occasional
exposure to vibration and extreme temperatures; limited to
exposure of no more than moderate levels of noise as defined
in Appendix D of the Selected Characteristics of Occupations,
1993 Edition. The ALJ also limited Plaintiff to frequent
bilateral handling and fine fingering; limited to frequent
reaching all directions with the left non-dominant hand;
limited to no fast-pace production line or quota driven work;
and Plaintiff would also be off task for no more than 10% of
the workday in addition to normally scheduled breaks, and
would miss no more than one day of work per month (Tr. 20).
Relying on testimony from the vocational expert, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff is unable to perform any of her past
relevant work (Tr. 25).
proceeded to the fifth step where he considered
Plaintiff's RFC, age, education, and past work experience
as well as testimony from the vocational expert (Tr. 25-26).
The ALJ found that Plaintiff can perform a significant number
of jobs that exist in the national economy (Id.).
Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has not been
under a “disability, ” as defined in the Social
Security Act, from June 15, 2015, through the date of the
decision (Tr. 26).
timely filed a request for the Appeals Council to review the
ALJ's decision (Tr. Tr. 170-71). The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-3).