United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Brent Brennenstuhl, United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is the complaint (DN 1) of William Michael Beaty
seeking judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Both Beaty
(DN 14, 17) and the Commissioner (DN 19) have filed a Fact
and Law Summary. For the reasons that follow, the final
decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED,
and judgment is GRANTED for the
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 11). The parties
were notified that oral arguments would not be held unless a
written request therefor was filed and granted (DN 12). No.
such request was filed.
filed an application for period of disability and disability
insurance benefits on May 20, 2016 (Tr. 175-76). Beaty
alleged that he became disabled on June 1, 2014 as a result
of Degeneration in L-3 and L-4; L-1 though L-5 herniated or
bulging discs; bad knees; bad shoulders; bad neck; rheumatoid
arthritis; sleeping problems; anxiety (Tr. 186).
Administrative Law Judge Brian Steger (“ALJ”)
conducted a hearing on June 6, 2018 via teleconference. Beaty
appeared in Bowling Green, Kentucky and the ALJ presided from
St. Louis, Missouri. Plaintiff was represented by Debra L.
Broz. Also present and testifying was Kathleen L. Reis, an
impartial vocational expert.
decision dated June 29, 2018, the ALJ evaluated this adult
disability claim pursuant to the five-step sequential
evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner (Tr.
9-19). At the first step, the ALJ found Beaty has not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since June 1, 2014, the
alleged onset date (Tr. 11). At the second step, the ALJ
determined that Beaty's lumbar degenerative disc disease,
left shoulder tendonitis, and generalized osteoporosis are
“severe” impairments within the meaning of the
regulations (Tr. 11). Notably, at the second step, the ALJ
also determined that Beaty's left knee impairment, left
foot impairment, and rheumatoid arthritis are
Anon-severe” impairments within the meaning of the
regulations (Tr. 12). At the third step, the ALJ concluded
that Beaty does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed
impairments in Appendix 1 (Tr. 14).
fourth step, the ALJ found Beaty has the residual functional
capacity to perform light work with limitations (Tr. 15).
More specifically, the ALJ found that Beaty cannot climb
ladders, ropes, and scaffolds, but is otherwise capable of
occasional postural activities; he is capable of occasionally
reaching above shoulder level and frequently reaching in all
other directions with the non-dominant, left upper extremity;
he is to avoid exposure to hazards, including unprotected
heights and moving mechanical parts; he is incapable of
operating a motor vehicle for work. (Tr. 15). Relying on
testimony from the vocational expert, the ALJ found that
Beaty is unable to perform any of his/her past relevant work
proceeded to the fifth step where he considered Beaty's
residual functional capacity, age, education, and past work
experience as well as testimony from the vocational expert
(Tr. 18). The ALJ found that Beaty can perform a significant
number of jobs that exist in the national economy (Tr. 18).
Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Beaty has not been under a
“disability, ” as defined in the Social Security
Act, from June 1, 2014 through the date last insured (Tr.
timely filed a request for the Appeals Council to review the
ALJ's decision (Tr. 231-38). The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision
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 Beaty's
request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-8). 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 ...