United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Hood, Senior U.S. District Judge
Lenore Crutchfield, proceeding pro se,
brings this matter under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking
judicial review of an administrative decision of the Acting
Commissioner of Social Security. [DE 1]. The Court, having
reviewed the record and the motions filed by the parties, [DE
12, 14], will AFFIRM the
Commissioner’s decision as no legal error occurred and
it is supported by substantial evidence.
STANDARD FOR DETERMINING DISABILITY
the Social Security Act, a disability is defined as
“inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). In determining disability, an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) uses a five-step analysis.
See Jones v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d
469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003). Step One considers whether the
claimant is still performing substantial gainful activity;
Step Two, whether any of the claimant’s impairments are
“severe”; Step Three, whether the impairments
meet or equal a listing in the Listing of Impairments; Step
Four, whether the claimant can still perform his past
relevant work; and Step Five, whether significant numbers of
other jobs exist in the national economy which the claimant
can perform. As to the last step, the burden of proof shifts
from the claimant to the Commissioner. Id.; see
also Preslar v. Sec’y of Health & Human
Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL HISTORY
Plaintiff, Lenore Crutchfield (“Crutchfield”),
filed her application for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act in December of 2013. [TR 188-192]. Crutchfield alleges
she became disabled in September 2012. [TR 188]. The claim
was denied initially and upon reconsideration. [TR 86-115].
Crutchfield then pursued her claims at a hearing in front of
an ALJ, Davida Isaacs, on April 27, 2016. [TR 36-60]. The ALJ
issued a decision on June 14, 2016, denying
Crutchfield’s claims and finding that she was not
disabled within the meaning of the Act. [TR 9-20]. The
Appeals Council denied review, [TR 1– 4], making the
ALJ’s decision final for purposes of judicial review.
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481.
appeal followed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). [DE 1].
Consistent with the Court’s Standing Scheduling Order,
[DE 5], the parties have submitted cross motions for summary
judgment,  which are ripe for review. [DE 12, 14].
alleges onset of disability at age 35 when she claims her
disability began and at age 39 when the ALJ issued her
decision in June 2016. [TR 188]. Crutchfield has a high
school education. [TR 231]. She engaged in past relevant work
as a hair stylist. [Id.].
claims disability due to right ankle fracture with
posttraumatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, and obesity. At the
hearing in front of the ALJ, Crutchfield testified that her
right ankle and left foot caused her sever pain. [TR 43-44].
She stated that she uses crutches most of the time and the
she had pain while sitting, standing, and walking. [TR 45].
Crutchfield further stated that had depression, which made
her irritable around people and not want to engage in social
activity. [TR 51].
testified that she lives with her three minor children at
home. [TR 40]. Crutchfield reported that her three and
four-year old children are able to do a lot on their own. [TR
48]. Crutchfield further testified that she stays at home in
bed most of the time. [TR 52].
fractured her right ankle due to a fall in 2007. [TR 373,
376]. She had surgery for this injury but continued to work
after the surgery and treatment. [TR 198].
October 2012 to January 2016, Crutchfield was examined by a
podiatrist, Heather Whitesel, D.P.M., on seven separate
occasions. [TR 316-19, 479-91, 499-504]. She complained that
she had injured her left foot while stepping off the curb.
[TR 503-503]. Crutchfield’s feet were X-rayed,
revealing no acute abnormality in her left foot, but
osteoarthritis in her previously injured right ankle. [TR
438]. Crutchfield received a corticosteroid injection and
reported that she had decreased pain. [TR 499-500].
April 2014, Dr. Whitesel completed a medical statement,
listing Crutchfield’s diagnoses as ankle arthritis,
edema, and low limb pain. [TR 909]. Whitesel concluded that
Crutchfield could stand 15-30 minutes at a time but would
need to elevate her legs occasionally to frequently.
[Id.]. She further opined that Crutchfield required
an assistive device to walk on uneven surfaces. [TR 909-10].
months later, Crutchfield returned to Whitesel, complaining
of left foot pain. [TR 318-19]. X-rays showed evidence of a
stress fracture at three metatarsals. [TR 318]. Crutchfield
returned in August, with no new signs of fracture,
dislocation. [TR 316]. Crutchfield complained of only
intermittent discomfort. [TR 316-17].
next went to Whitesel with new complaints of pain in her left
foot in February of 2015. [TR 488-91]. X-rays revealed
post-traumatic degenerative disc disease of the ankle. [TR
490]. However, Crutchfield stated that she did not want to
undergo an ankle fusion surgery. [TR 483-491]. At her August
follow-up, Crutchfield complained of right ankle pain, and
Whitesel referred her to therapy. [TR 483-86].
most recent appointment with Whitesel was in January 2016.
Whitesel informed Crutchfield that she should attempt to
maintain ankle flexibility, but that Crutchfield might be a
candidate for ankle fusion or replacement surgeries as her
post-traumatic degenerative disc disease of the ankle
progressed. [TR 481].
also treated with John Stewart, M.D. for pain on occasion
between 2013 and 2016. He prescribed her medication for her
pain, but only occasionally recorded relevant musculoskeletal
examination findings, which were often inconsistent. [TR 300,
536, 547, 557, 573, 640, 665, 683, 696]. Stewart also
prescribed Crutchfield an anti-depressant in June 2015 due to
her claim that she was undergoing high stress due to her
children being home during the summer. [TR 570, 578]. This
continued despite Crutchfield’s report that she had
stable or even good moods on other occasions. [TR 509, 521,
526, 536, 541, 547, 557, 562, 573, 577, 588, 593, 593, 604,
614, 618, 626, 640, 665, 684, 691, and 696].
Crutchfield was examined by a consultative examiner, Barry
Burchett, M.D., in conjunction with her SSI claim. [TR
310-15]. Once again, Crutchfield complain of right ankle pain
and problems with her left foot. [Id.]. On
examination, Burchett found Crutchfield to have obesity, mild
difficulty performing a tandem gait, squatting, knee flexion,
and a reduced range of motion. [Id.]. All other