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McGuffin v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

September 26, 2019

TIMOTHY W. MCGUFFIN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Colin H Lindsay, Magistrate Judge United States District Court

         Before the Court is the Complaint (DN 1) of Plaintiff, Timothy W. McGuffin (“McGuffin”). In his Complaint, McGuffin seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the “Commissioner”). See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2017). McGuffin filed a Fact and Law Summary. (DN 18.) The Commissioner filed a Fact and Law Summary in response. (DN 24.) The Parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to enter judgment in this case with direct review by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the event an appeal is filed. (DN 23.) Therefore, this matter is ripe for review.

         For the reasons stated herein, the final decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

         I. FINDINGS OF FACT

         McGuffin filed an application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental Social Security income on July 24, 2014. (DN 13-5, at PageID # 322-31.) On January 27, 2017, Administrative Law Judge Teresa A. Kroenecke (the “ALJ”) conducted a hearing on McGuffin’s application. (DN 13-2, at PageID # 87-130.) In a decision dated March 31, 2017, the ALJ engaged in the five-step evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner to determine whether an individual is disabled. (DN 13-2, at PageID # 53-79.) In doing so, the ALJ made these findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2019. (Id. at 58.)
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 31, 2013, the alleged onset date. (Id.)
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: coronary artery disease and hypertension status post stenting; degenerative changes and disc disease of the lumbar spine; degenerative changes of the cervical spine; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and history of seizures. (Id. at 59.)
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 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Id. at 64.)
5. [T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except: the claimant requires allowance to alternate into the sitting position from the standing and/or walking positions every 30-45 minutes for 2-3 minutes while at the work station and to alternate into the standing position from the sitting position very [sic] 30-45 minutes for 2-3 minutes while at the work station; the claimant is able to perform up to occasional balancing, stooping, crouching, and climbing of ramps and stairs but no kneeling, crawling, or climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; the claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme heat, extreme cold, humidity, wetness, vibration, or hazards, such as unprotected heights, moving mechanical parts or driving; and the claimant must avoid even moderate exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and areas of poor ventilation. (Id. at 65-66.)
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work. (Id. at 77.)
7. The claimant was born on July 1, 1965 and was 48 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to closely approaching advanced age. (Id.)
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English. (Id.)
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills. (Id.)
10. Considering the claimant’s age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant No. in the national economy that the claimant can perform. (Id.)
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from December 31, 2013, through the date of this decision. (Id. at 78.).

         McGuffin requested an appeal to the Appeals Council (DN 13-4, at PageID # 320), which denied his request for review on October 16, 2017 (DN 13-2, at PageID # 47-49). At that point, the ALJ’s decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 422.210(a) (2019); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(h) (discussing finality of the Commissioner’s decision). Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 422.210(c), McGuffin is presumed to have received that decision five days later, on ...


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