United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
PARRISH L. NEWTON PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Brent Brennenstuhl, United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is the complaint (DN 1) of Parrish L. Newton
seeking judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Both Newton
(DN 16) and Defendant (DN 17) 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 10). By Order
entered August 31, 2018 (DN 11), the parties were notified
that oral arguments would not be held unless a written
request therefor was filed and granted. No. such request was
filed an application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits on August 14, 2014 (Tr.
286-310). Plaintiff alleged that she became disabled on
November 23, 2010 as a result of high blood pressure,
depression, and back problems (Tr. 329). Administrative Law
Judge John R. Price (“ALJ”) conducted a hearing
on April 10, 2017 via video conference. Newton appeared in
Bowling Green, KY and the ALJ presided from Louisville, KY.
Newton was present and represented by Charles Burchett. Also
present and testifying was Tina Stambaugh, an impartial
decision dated June 7, 2017, the ALJ evaluated this adult
disability claim pursuant to the five-step sequential
evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner (Tr.
15-31). At the first step, the ALJ found Plaintiff has not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 26,
2013, the alleged onset date (Tr. 17). At the second step,
the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's borderline
intellectual functioning, depression, degenerative disc
disease with herniation status/post discectomy, degenerative
joint disease knees and ankles, carpel tunnel/de
Quervain's status/post surgeries of left wrist with
tendonitis vs. arthritis, injury to right elbow, and obesity
status/post lap band are “severe” impairments
within the meaning of the regulations (Tr. 17). Notably, at
the second step, the ALJ also determined that Plaintiff's
history of UTI's, gallstones, and the removal of her
gallbladder are “non-severe” impairments within
the meaning of the regulations (Tr. 18). At the 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. 18).
fourth step, the ALJ found Plaintiff has the residual
functional capacity to perform less than a full range of
sedentary work (Tr. 21). More specifically, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff requires 30 minute sit stand intervals taking
a minute or two to change position; no ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; only occasional ramps and stairs; occasional
kneeling, stooping, crouching, and crawling; she is capable
of simple routine work where there are no fast-paced
production-rate demands; occasional (superficial) interaction
with coworkers and supervisors and avoiding the general
public (Tr. 21). Relying on testimony from the vocational
expert, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to perform any
of her past relevant work (Tr. 29).
proceeded to the fifth step where he considered
Plaintiff's residual functional capacity, age, education,
and past work experience as well as testimony from the
vocational expert (Tr. 29). The ALJ found that Plaintiff is
capable of performing a significant number of jobs that exist
in the national economy (Tr. 29). Therefore, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff has not been under a
“disability, ” as defined in the Social Security
Act, from February 26, 2013 through the date of the decision
timely filed a request for the Appeals Council to review the
ALJ's decision (Tr. 282-83). The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision
of Review Review by the Court is limited to determining
whether the findings set forth in the final decision of the
Commissioner are supported by “substantial evidence,
” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Cotton v. Sullivan,
2 F.3d 692, 695 (6th Cir. 1993); Wyatt v. Sec'y of
Health & Human Servs., 974 F.2d 680, 683 (6th Cir.
1992), and whether the correct legal standards were applied.
Landsaw v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.,
803 F.2d 211, 213 (6th Cir. 1986). “Substantial
evidence exists when a reasonable mind could accept the
evidence as adequate to support the challenged conclusion,
even if that evidence could support a decision the other
way.” Cotton, 2 F.3d at 695 (quoting Casey
v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 987 F.2d
1230, 1233 (6th Cir. 1993)). In reviewing a case for
substantial evidence, the Court “may not try the case
de novo, nor resolve conflicts in evidence, nor
decide questions of credibility.” Cohen v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 964 F.2d 524,
528 (6th Cir. 1992) (quoting Garner v. Heckler, 745
F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984)).
previously mentioned, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision
(Tr. 1-3). At that point, the ALJ's decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.955(b), 404.981, 422.210(a); see 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(h) (finality of the Commissioner's decision).
Thus, the Court will be reviewing the decision of the ALJ,
not the Appeals Council, and the evidence that was in the
administrative record when the ALJ rendered the decision. 42
U.S.C. § 405(g); 20 ...