United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Gregory F. Van Tatenhove United States District Judge.
Dewayne Disney seeks judicial review of an administrative
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, which denied
his claim for supplemental security income and disability
insurance benefits. Mr. Disney brings this action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), alleging by the ALJ considering the
matter. The Court, having reviewed the record and for the
reasons set forth herein, will DENY Mr.
Disney's Motion for Summary Judgment and
GRANT the Commissioner's.
Andy Dewayne Disney initially filed an application for Title
II Disability Insurance Benefits and Title XVI Supplemental
Security Income on November 10, 2014, alleging disability
beginning on November 15, 2010. [Transcript (hereinafter,
“Tr.”) 11.] Administrative Law Judge Issacs
denied this request on January 20, 2015, and again denied it
upon reconsideration on March 10, 2015. Id. Mr.
Disney filed a request for a hearing on April 7, 2015, which
was held on April 4, 2017. Id. On July 6, 2017, the
ALJ issued a partially favorable decision. Id. at
18. The Appeals Council denied Mr. Disney's request for
review on February 14, 2018. Id. at 1. Mr. Disney
was previously denied benefits by an ALJ on August 9, 2013.
evaluate a claim of disability for Title II disability
insurance benefit claims, an ALJ conducts a five-step
analysis. Compare 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520
(disability insurance benefit claim) with 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920 (claims for supplemental security
income). First, if a claimant is performing a
substantial gainful activity, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(b). Second, if a claimant does not have any
impairment or combination of impairments which significantly
limit his physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities, he does not have a severe impairment and is not
“disabled” as defined by the regulations. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(c). Third, if a claimant's
impairments meet or equal one of the impairments listed in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, he is
“disabled.” C.F.R. § 404.1530(d). Before
moving on to the fourth step, the ALJ must use all of the
relevant evidence in the record to determine the
claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC), which
assess an individual's ability to perform certain
physical and metal work activities on a sustained basis
despite any impairment experienced by the individual.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e); 20 C.F.R. §
the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has the RFC to
perform the requirements of his past relevant work, and if a
claimant's impairments do not prevent him from doing past
relevant work, he is not “disabled.” 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(e). Fifth, if a claimant's impairments
(considering his RFC, age, education, and past work) prevent
him from doing other work that exists in the national
economy, then he is “disabled.” 20 C.F.R. §
Step Four of the analysis, “the claimant bears the
burden of proving the existence and severity of limitations
caused by her impairments and the fact that she is precluded
from performing her past relevant work.” Jones v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir.
2003). At Step Five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to
identify a significant number of jobs that accommodate the
claimant's profile, but the claimant retains the ultimate
burden of proving his lack of residual functional capacity.
Id.; Jordan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 548
F.3d 417, 423 (6th Cir. 2008).
outset of this case, the ALJ determined that Mr. Disney met
the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act
through December 31, 2015. Tr. 14; see also 20
C.F.R. § 404.131. Then at Step One, the ALJ found Mr.
Disney had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
the alleged disability onset date, November 15, 2010, through
his date last insured. Tr. 14. At Step Two, the ALJ found Mr.
Disney to suffer from the severe impairment of degenerative
disk disease. Id. At Step Three, the ALJ determined
his combination of impairments did not meet or medically
equal one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404 or
Part 416. Id. Before moving on to Step Four, the ALJ
considered the record and determined that Mr. Disney
possessed the following residual functioning capacity:
[Mr. Disney] has the residual functional capacity to perform
sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a) with lifting/carrying 20 pounds occasionally and
10 pounds frequently; standing/walking no more 30 minutes at
a time for 2 hours in an 8-hour day; sitting 30 minutes at a
time for 6 hours in an 8hour day; no more than occasional
stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, and climbing
ramps/stairs; no balancing on uneven surfaces; no overhead
reaching bilaterally and use of an assistive device for
Id. After explaining the RFC, the ALJ found at Step
Four that, based on his RFC, age, education, and work
experience, Mr. Disney was not capable of performing past
relevant work as a scoop operator or foreman since August 10,
2013, but was capable of performing other jobs existing in
the national economy until his age category changed on April
3, 2017. Id. at 16-18. Accordingly, the ALJ found at
Step Five that Mr. Disney was not disabled for Title II
Disability Insurance Benefits because his date last insured
expired on December 31, 2015, but he was found disabled on
April 3, 2017 for Title XVI Supplemental Security Benefits
because his age status changed to an individual closely
approaching advanced age on that date. Id. at 18.
Court's review is generally limited to whether there is
substantial evidence in the record to support the ALJ's
decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Wright v.
Massanari, 321 F.3d 611, 614 (6th Cir. 2003);
Shelman v. Heckler, 821 F.2d 316, 319-20 (6th Cir.
1987). “Substantial evidence” is “more than
a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance; it is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Cutlip v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286
(6th Cir. 1994) (citing Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). The substantial evidence standard
“presupposes that there is a zone of choice within
which [administrative] decision makers can go either way,
without interference by the courts.” Mullen v.
Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986) (quoting
Baker v. Heckler, 730 F.2d 1147, 1150 (8th Cir.
determine whether substantial evidence exists, courts must
examine the record as a whole. Cutlip, 25 F.3d at
286 (citing Kirk v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 667 F.2d 524, 535 (6th Cir. 1981), cert.
denied, 461 U.S. 957 (1983)). However, a reviewing court
may not conduct a de novo review, resolve conflicts
in the evidence, or make credibility determinations.
Ulman v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 693 F.3d 709, 713
(6th Cir. 2012); see also Bradley v. Sec'y of Health
& Human Servs., 862 F.2d 1224, 1228 (6th Cir. 1988).
Rather, if the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence, it must be affirmed even if the
reviewing court would decide the matter differently, and even
if substantial evidence also ...