United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
OPINION AND ORDER
HORN BOOM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Tonya Johnson (“Johnson”) brought this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g); 1383(c)(3) and 5
U.S.C. § 706 to obtain judicial review of an
administrative decision denying her claims for Supplemental
Security Income Benefits. [R. 1, Compl.] The Parties filed
cross Motions for Summary Judgment pursuant to the
Court's Standing Scheduling Order. [R. 12; R. 19; R. 23]
Because Johnson has exhausted her administrative remedies,
her claims are ripe for review by this Court pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). The Court, having
reviewed the Motions, the briefs in support, and the entire
record, will AFFIRM the Commissioner's
decision because it is supported by substantial evidence and
was decided by the proper legal standards,
DENY Johnson's Motion for Summary
Judgment, and GRANT the Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
April 26, 2016, Johnson filed applications for Social
Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income
Benefits, alleging disability beginning November 11, 2015 due
to various impairments. [Administrative Record
(“AR”) at 206-14, 73] These impairments included
degenerative disc disease, obesity, depression, and anxiety.
[AR at 25] Johnson also alleged other impairments of ovarian
cysts, headaches, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, feet
and legs swelling and hurting, spasms of the cervical spine,
arthritis, and memory issues. [AR at 26].
application and the reconsideration of her application were
denied. [AR at 97-98, 125-126] Johnson sought review and was
heard before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”),
who found that Johnson was not disabled. [AR at 23-34] In
denying her claim, the ALJ used the five-step sequential
process outlined in the regulations under the Social Security
Act. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(e); see Walters v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 529 (6th Cir.
one, the ALJ determined that Johnson had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity (“SGA”) since
November 11, 2015 (the alleged onset date). [AR at 25]
two, the ALJ determined that Johnson had several severe
impairments: “degenerative disc disease of the lumbar
spine; obesity; depression; and anxiety, ” and that her
remaining alleged impairments were non-severe in nature. [AR
three, the ALJ determined that Johnson 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
four, the ALJ determined that Johnson had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform medium
work [AR at 30], as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1567(c) and 416.967(c) with “non-exertional
limitations.” [AR at 33]
five, the ALJ determined that, considering the RFC described
above, Johnson was able to perform past relevant work. [AR at
33] Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Johnson was not
appealed the ALJ's decision before the Appeals Council.
[AR at 1-5] However, the Appeals Council denied Johnson's
Request for Review of the ALJ's initial decision. [AR at
1-5] Thereafter, Johnson filed this action for court review
of the ALJ's decision. [R. 1, Compl.]
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court must uphold the Commissioner's decision
“absent a determination that the Commissioner has
failed to apply the correct legal standards or has made
findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the
record.” Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
735 F.3d 387, 390 (6th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted). The Court may decide only whether the
Commissioner's decision “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). Substantial evidence is
defined as “more than a scintilla of evidence but less
than a preponderance.” Cutlip v. Sec'y of
Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 285-86 (6th Cir.
1994). “The substantial evidence standard is met if a
reasonable mind might accept the relevant evidence as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Longworth v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir.
2005). “[E]ven if there is substantial evidence in the
record that would have supported an opposite conclusion, so
long as substantial evidence supports the conclusion reached
by the ALJ, ” the Court must uphold the
Commissioner's decision. Jones v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 475 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Key
v. Callahan, 109 F.3d 270, 273 (6th Cir. 1997)). The
Court cannot review the case de novo, resolve
conflicts of evidence, or decide questions of credibility.
Nelson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 195 Fed.
App'x. 462, 468 (6th Cir. 2006); Garner v.
Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984).
argues that she should be awarded benefits for four main
reasons. First, Johnson argues that the lay testimony from
the hearing proves that she is totally disabled. [R. 19-1,
Pl. Mem. in Supp., at pp. 14-15] Second, Johnson argues that
the vocational expert's (the “VE”) testimony
proves that she is totally disabled. Id. at p. 15.
Third, Johnson argues that the ALJ committed reversible error
in failing to apply the appropriate standard for pain under
controlling Sixth Circuit precedent. Id. at pp.
15-17. Finally, Johnson argues that benefits should be
awarded because “the overwhelming weight of treating
and examining physician opinions prove that [she] is
disabled.” Id. at pp. 17-18. Some of
Johnson's arguments include only conclusory statements
without presenting any supporting evidence. Though the Court
is not required to formulate an argument when the Claimant
fails to do so, the Court will consider the evidence and
address each of Johnson's arguments in turn. Fulks v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 6:12-CV-00227-KKC, 2013 WL
4049529, at *2 (E.D. Ky. Aug. 9, 2013) (citing Hollon ex
re. Hollon v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 447 F.3d 477,
490-91 (6th Cir. 2006)).
The ALJ did not err in evaluating ...