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Turner v. Berryhill

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

August 26, 2019

SANDRA MICHELLE TURNER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SSA, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN K. CALDWELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiff Sandra Michelle Turner brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision denying her claim for disability insurance benefits. The Court, having reviewed the record, will affirm the Commissioner's decision.

         The Court's review of the decision by the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) is limited to determining whether the 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).

         In denying Turner's claim, the ALJ engaged in the five-step sequential process set forth in the regulations under the Social Security Act (“The Act”). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(e). See, e.g., Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 529 (6th Cir. 1997).

         At step one, the ALJ determined that Turner has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 31, 2010, the alleged onset date. (Administrative Record (“AR”) at 13.)

         At step two, the ALJ determined that Turner has the severe impairments of anxiety and depression. (AR at 13.)

         At step three, the ALJ found that Turner does 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. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (AR at 14.)

         Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that Turner has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but limited to simple or detailed instructions and tasks with no public interaction. (AR at 16.)

         At step four, the ALJ determined that Turner is unable to perform any past relevant work. (AR at 18.)

         At step five, the ALJ determined that, considering Turner's age, education, work experience, and the RFC described above, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Turner can perform and, thus, Turner is not disabled. (AR at 19.)

         Turner claims that the ALJ erred in two ways. First, she argues the ALJ's determination that she is not disabled is not supported by substantial evidence. Second, she argues the ALJ failed to properly evaluate her subjective complaints of pain. (DE 13-1 at 2.)

         As to the first objection, a general objection that the ALJ's opinion is not supported by substantial evidence is not “sufficiently specific to focus the district court's attention on the factual and legal issues that are truly in dispute.” Wyatt v. Barnhart, 190 Fed.Appx. 730, 732 (10th Cir. 2006) (quotations and citation omitted). In arguing that the ALJ's opinion is not supported by substantial evidence, however, Turner makes the specific argument that the ALJ failed to consider that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder II.

         The ALJ did recognize, however, that Turner had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder II. (AR at 14.) Nevertheless, Turner does not point to any medical evidence that bipolar disorder II would restrict her ability to work anymore than the ALJ determined. Turner does not explain why the ALJ would have determined a different RFC had this additional impairment been taken into consideration. Cf. McKenzie v. Comm'r, Soc. Sec., 2000 WL 687680, at *5 (6th Cir. 2000) (“the mere diagnosis of an impairment does not render an individual disabled nor does it reveal anything about the limitations, if any, it imposes upon an individual.”).

         Turner also argues that the ALJ's RFC did not reflect the restrictions placed upon her by her treating psychiatrist (Dr. Syed Raza) and the consultative examiner (Dr. William Rigsby). These restrictions relate to Turner's ability to interact with supervisors, co-workers, and the public; deal with stress; maintain concentration; and follow instructions. As discussed, the RFC does account for limitations in Turner's ability to interact with others and to follow ...


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