United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division
TEDDY L. SCOTT PLAINTIFF
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Brent Brennenstuhl, United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is the complaint (DN 1) of Teddy Scott seeking
judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Both the
Plaintiff (DN 13) and Defendant (DN 18) have filed a Fact and
Law Summary. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned
orders the final decision of the Commissioner be reversed,
judgment be entered in favor of Scott, and pursuant to
sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) this matter be
remanded to the Commissioner for further proceedings.
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 9). By order
entered February 21, 2019 (DN 10), the parties were notified
that oral arguments would not be held unless a written
request therefore was filed and granted. No such request was
protectively filed an application for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits on September 25, 2015 and a
subsequent application for supplemental security income on
December 23, 2015 (Tr. 205-221). Scott alleged he became
disabled on March 20, 2015 as a result of occupational
asthma, vocal chord dysfunction, severe sleep apnea,
diverticular disease, lower back pain, neurological issues,
severe migraines, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, blood
in stool, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Tr. 247).
Administrative Law Judge Maribeth McMahon ("ALJ")
conducted a hearing on September 13, 2017 via video
conference. Scott appeared in Owensboro, Kentucky and the ALJ
presided from Paducah, Kentucky. Scott was represented by his
attorney, Steve Wilson. Leslie F. Lloyd was present and
testified as an impartial vocational expert (Tr. 17).
decision dated March 8, 2018 the ALJ evaluated this adult
disability claim pursuant to the five-step sequential
evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner (Tr.
17-30). At the first step, the ALJ found Scott has not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 20, 2015,
the alleged onset date (Tr. 19). At the second step, the ALJ
determined that Scott's chronic bronchitis, irritable
larynx, lower back pain, headaches, major depressive
disorder, and PTSD are "severe" impairments within
the meaning of the regulations (Tr. 19). The ALJ also
determined that Scott's diverticulitis, ulcers, GERD,
sleep apnea, obesity, are "non-severe" impairments
within the meaning of the regulations (Tr. 20). At the third
step, the ALJ concluded that Scott does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals one of the listed impairments in Appendix 1
fourth step, the ALJ found Scott has the residual functional
capacity to perform less than the full range of light work
(Tr. 23). More specifically, the ALJ found that Scott can
occasionally lift and carry 20 pounds and frequently lift and
carry 10 pounds; stand, sit, and walk up to 6 hours in an
8-hour workday with normal breaks; climb ladders, ropes, and
scaffolds occasionally; frequently climb ramps and stairs;
frequently stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. Scott should
avoid moderate exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and
poor ventilation; extreme heat, cold, and humidity;
concentrated exposure to vibrations, unprotected heights, and
dangerous machinery. Scott can understand, remember, and
carry out simple instructions; occasionally detailed
instructions; maintain attention and concentration for the
time required to complete simple tasks and occasionally
detailed tasks. Scott can respond appropriately to
supervisors, co-workers, and the public and can adapt to
routine changes and avoid hazards in a work setting with
routine support and structure (Tr. 23). Relying on testimony
from the vocational expert, the ALJ found that Scott is
unable to perform any of his past relevant work (Tr. 28).
proceeded to the fifth step where he considered Scott's
residual functional capacity, age, education, and past work
experience as well as testimony from the vocational expert
(Tr. 29). The ALJ found that Scott can perform a significant
number of jobs that exist in the national economy (Tr. 29).
Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Scott has not been under a
disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March
20, 2015 through the date of the decision (Tr. 30).
timely filed a request for the Appeals Council to review the
ALJ's decision (Tr. 134-36). The Appeals Council denied
Scott's request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr.
by the Court is limited to determining whether the findings
set forth in the final decision of the Commissioner are
supported by "substantial evidence," 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Cotton v. Sullivan, 2 F.3d 692, 695
(6th Cir. 1993); Wyatt v. Sec'y 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'y of Health & Human
Servs., 987 F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir. 1993)). In
reviewing a case for substantial evidence, the Court
"may not try the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts in
evidence, nor decide questions of credibility."
Cohen v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 964
F.2d 524, 528 (6th Cir. 1992) (quoting Garner v.
Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984)).
previously mentioned, the Appeals Council denied
Scott's's request for review of the ALJ's
decision (Tr. 1). At that point, the ALJ's decision
became the final decision of the Commissioner. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.955(b), 404.981, 422.210(a); see 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(h) (finality of the Commissioner's decision).
Thus, the Court will be reviewing the decision of the ALJ,
not the Appeals Council, and the evidence that was in the
administrative record when the ALJ rendered the decision. 42
U.S.C. § 405(g); 20 ...