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Puckett v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

August 6, 2019

KIM J. MEAUX PUCKETT, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          REBECCA GRADY JENNINGS, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Kim J. Meaux Puckett (“Puckett”) filed this action seeking review of the denial of disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income by Defendant Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”). [DE 1]. The case was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Colin Lindsay who issued Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendation (“R&R”) that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed. [DE 23]. Objections were timely filed by Puckett, [DE 24], and the Commissioner responded, [DE 25]. This matter is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons set forth below, the Court OVERRULES Puckett's Objections [DE 24], and ACCEPTS Magistrate Judge Lindsay's R&R without modification [DE 23].

         DISCUSSION

         The R&R accurately sets forth the factual and procedural background of the case and is incorporated by reference. [DE 23 at 877-88]. In sum, Puckett applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. [DE 1 at ⁋ 4]. After the Commissioner denied her claim both initially and upon reconsideration, Puckett appeared before Administrative Law Judge John R. Price (“ALJ”). Id. The ALJ ruled against Puckett and found:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2015.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 19, 2010, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: cervical and lumbar degenerative disc disease and depressive disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925, and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she is limited to occasionally crouching and crawling but no climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She should avoid extremely cold temperatures and concentrated exposure to vibration. Further, the claimant is limited to avoidance of the general public and to occasional interaction with coworkers.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a bindery worker and as a quality control worker. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from October 19, 2010, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)).

         [DE 13-2].

         On appeal to the ALJ, Puckett argued: (1) the ALJ did not consider whether her obesity constituted a severe impairment [DE 23 at 881]; (2) the ALJ did not factor in her obesity when determining whether she met the requirements in Listing 1.04 and/or 12.04 [Id.]; (3) the ALJ's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) analysis did not consider all available medical evidence, specifically the opinion of Puckett's treating orthopedist [Id.]; and (4) the ALJ's hypothetical question to the vocational expert failed to represent the evidence of her limitations. Id. After reviewing the record and relevant law, Magistrate Judge Lindsay found that the ALJ's final decision was supported by substantial evidence and rejected each of Puckett's arguments.

         Repeating her arguments in her appeal to the ALJ, Puckett now objects to Magistrate Judge Lindsay's findings in the R&R that: (1) substantial evidence supports the ALJ's finding that Puckett's obesity was not a severe impairment; (2) the ALJ considered the combined effects of Puckett's mental and physical impairments when determining whether her impairments qualified under Listing 1.04 and 12.04; (3) the ALJ's RFC analysis was supported by substantial evidence; and (4) ...


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