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Crockett v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

January 17, 2019

ADRIENNE D. CROCKETT, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          P. Bradley Murray UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Adrienne D. Crockett brings this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claims for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income. The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by the Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), for all proceedings in this Court. (Docs. 18 & 19 (“In accordance with provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, the parties in this case consent to have a United States magistrate judge conduct any and all proceedings in this case, . . . order the entry of a final judgment, and conduct all post-judgment proceedings.”)). Upon consideration of the administrative record, Plaintiff's brief, the Commissioner's brief, and the parties' arguments at the January 9, 2018 hearing before the undersigned, the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision denying benefits should be affirmed.[1]

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed applications for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income on October 9, 2015, alleging disability beginning on March 31, 2015. (See Tr. 156-71.) Crockett's claims were initially denied on November 13, 2015 (see Tr. 83-84) and, following Plaintiff's late November 2015 request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (see Tr. 94-95), a hearing was conducted before an ALJ on March 20, 2017 (Tr.26-49). On June 22, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding that the claimant was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, or supplemental security income. (Tr. 10-17.) More specifically, the ALJ stopped at the fourth step of the five-step sequential evaluation process and determined that Crockett retains the residual functional capacity to perform her past relevant sedentary work as a credit card clerk (compare Id. at 16-17 with Tr. 47). On July 24, 2017, the Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's unfavorable decision to the Appeals Council (see Tr. 153); the Appeals Council denied Crockett's request for review on April 10, 2018 (Tr. 1-3). Thus, the hearing decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security.

         Plaintiff alleges disability due to obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, and chronic kidney disease. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made the following relevant findings:

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: obesity; rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis; [and] degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
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 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a).
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a credit card clerk. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 31, 2015, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)).

(Tr. 12, 13, 14, 16 & 17 (emphasis in original)).

         II. Standard of Review and Claims on Appeal

In all Social Security cases, an ALJ utilizes a five-step sequential evaluation
to determine whether the claimant is disabled, which considers: (1) whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity; (2) if not, whether the claimant has a severe impairment; (3) if so, whether the severe impairment meets or equals an impairment in the Listing of Impairments in the regulations; (4) if not, whether the claimant has the RFC to perform h[is] past relevant work; and (5) if not, whether, in light of ...

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