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Gillispie v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville

July 9, 2019

VANESSA GILLISPIE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Henry R. Wilhoit Jr. United States District Judge

         Plaintiff has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to challenge a final decision of the Defendant denying Plaintiffs application for disability insurance benefits. The Court having reviewed the record in this case and the dispositive motions filed by the parties, finds that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge is supported by substantial evidence and should be affirmed.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits on April 30, 2015, alleging disability beginning on February 26, 2015, due to "non diagnosed neurological disorder, atypical macular degeneration, tachycardia, osteoporosis, degenerative disc, bulging discs [and] facet arthropathy" (Tr. 194). This application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Thereafter, upon request by Plaintiff, an administrative hearing was conducted by Administrative Law Judge Boyce Crocker (hereinafter "ALJ"), wherein Plaintiff, accompanied by counsel, testified. At the hearing, Gina Baldwin, a vocational expert (hereinafter "VE"), also testified.

         At the hearing, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.920, the ALJ performed the following five-step sequential analysis in order to determine whether the Plaintiff was disabled:

Step 1: If the claimant is performing substantial gainful work, he is not disabled.
Step 2: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work, his impairment(s) must be severe before he can be found to be disabled based upon the requirements in 20 C.F.R.§ 416.920(b).
Step 3: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful work and has a severe impairment (or impairments) that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and his impairments (or impairments) meets or medically equals a listed impairment contained in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4, the claimant is disabled without further inquiry.
Step 4: If the claimant's impairment (or impairments) does not prevent him from doing his past relevant work, he is not disabled.
Step 5: Even if the claimant's impairment or impairments prevent him from performing his past relevant work, if other work exists in significant numbers in the national economy that accommodates his residual functional capacity and vocational factors, he is not disabled.

         The ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. Plaintiff was 57 years old at the alleged date of onset of disability. She has a high school education. Her past relevant work experience consists of work as a family resource coordinator / school social worker for the Pike County Board of Education.

         At Step 1 of the sequential analysis, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of disability.

         The ALJ then determined, at Step 2, that Plaintiff suffers from macular degeneration and dysfunction of a major joint (left shoulder), which he found to be "severe" within the meaning of the Regulations.

         At Step 3, the ALJ found that Plaintiffs impairments did not meet or medically equal any of the listed impairments. In doing so, the ALJ specifically considered Listings 1.02 and 2.00 At Step 4, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could perform her past relevant work as a family resource coordinator / school social worker. He further determined that she has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a range of light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) with certain additional restrictions (Tr. 16). Specifically, Plaintiff could: lift, carry, push, and pull 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; perform postural activities occasionally; ...


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