United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division
CRYSTAL D. PHILLIPS 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 Crystal D. Phillips
(“Plaintif”) seeking judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). Both the Plaintiff (DN 19) and Defendant (DN 24) 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 15). By Order
entered August 22, 2018 (DN 14), 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 Supplemental Security
Income benefits on July 15, 2015 (Tr. 15, 218-26). Plaintiff
alleged that she became disabled on January 20, 2010 as a
result of fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease,
depression, anxiety, severe back pain with numbness into the
legs and feet, stomach problems, fatigue, and constant pain
(Tr. 15, 292). Plaintiff subsequently amended her alleged
onset date to July 15, 2015 (Tr. 15). Administrative Law
Judge Mattie Harvin-Woode (AALT) conducted a video hearing
from St. Louis, Missouri on September 14, 2017 (Tr. 15,
32-35). Plaintiff and her non-attorney representative,
Jeffrey Smith, participated from Bowling Green, Kentucky (Tr.
15, 32-35, 205-06). Mark A. Anderson testified as an
impartial vocational expert during the hearing (Tr. 15,
decision dated November 30, 2017 the ALJ evaluated this adult
disability claim pursuant to the five-step sequential
evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner (Tr.
15-26). At the first step, the ALJ found Plaintiff has not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 15, 2015,
the alleged onset date (Tr. 17).
second step, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the
following severe impairments: obesity; lumbar degenerative
disc disease; history of sensorimotor polyneuropathy in the
lower extremities; history of moderate pes planus
bilaterally; a history of sleep apnea; posttraumatic stress
disorder (PTSD); an anxiety disorder; and a major depressive
disorder (Tr. 17). The ALJ also determined that Plaintiffs
esophageal reflux; history of migraine headaches; myopia; and
astigmatism are medically determinable non-severe impairments
(Id.). Additionally, the ALJ concluded there is a
lack of evidence in the record to support Plaintiffs
allegation of fibromyalgia (Tr. 17-18).
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). Additionally, the ALJ specifically indicated
Plaintiff did not meet or medically equal Listings 1.04,
12.04, and 12.15 as well as explained why the "paragraph
B" and "paragraph C" criteria for these
listings are not satisfied (Tr. 18-19).
fourth step, the ALJ found Plaintiff has the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work, as defined
in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b), except she needs the option
to sit or stand as needed, but can continue working in either
position; can occasionally stoop, crouch, and climb; can
occasionally climb ramps or stairs; should never climb
ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; cannot kneel or crawl; should
avoid work hazards and concentrated exposure to vibrations;
is limited to simple, routine tasks; and can occasionally
interact with the general public, but not in large, crowded,
public environments (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. 24).
proceeded to the fifth step where he considered Plaintiffs
RFC, age, education, and past work experience as well as
testimony from the vocational expert (Tr. 25-26). The ALJ
found that Plaintiff is capable of performing a significant
No. of jobs that exist in the national economy (Id., ).
Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has not been
under a Adisability," as defined in the Social Security
Act, from July 15, 2015 through the date of the decision (Tr.
timely filed a request for the Appeals Council to review the
ALJ's decision (Tr. 213-17). The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiffs request for review (Tr. 1-3).
by the Court is limited to determining whether the findings
set forth in the final decision of the Commissioner are
supported by Asubstantial evidence," 42 U.S.C. §
405(g); Cotton v. Sullivan,2 F.3d 692, 695 (6th
Cir. 1993); Wvatt v. Sec'v 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 V of
Health & Human Servs.,987 F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir.
1993)). In reviewing a case for substantial evidence, the
Court Amay not try the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts ...