Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lacy v. Colvin

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

December 10, 2013

EVELYN RAMEY LACY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DAVID L. HORAN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Evelyn Lacy Ramey[1] seeks judicial review of a final adverse decision of the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons stated herein, the hearing decision is affirmed.

Background

Plaintiff alleges that she is disabled due to a variety of ailments, including coronary artery disease, hyperthyroidism, hypertension, status post transient ischemic attack, including memory problems, congestive heart failure, chest pain status post myocardial infarction and angioplasty, and obesity. See Administrative Record [Dkt. No. 13] ("Tr.") at 20-21. After her applications for disability and supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits were denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). That hearing was held on April 28, 2010. See id. at 18. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was 52 years old. See id. at 34. She is a high school graduate and has past work experience as a customer service clerk. See id. at 35, 54. Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 2, 2008. See id. at 20.

The ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled and therefore not entitled to disability or SSI benefits. Although the medical evidence established that Plaintiff suffered from hypertension, status post transient ischemic attack, congestive heart failure, chest pain status post myocardial infarction and angioplasty, and obesity, the ALJ concluded that the severity of those impairments did not meet or equal any impairment listed in the social security regulations. See id. at 21-24. The ALJ further determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a wide range of unskilled light work but could not return to her past relevant employment. See id. at 25. Relying on the testimony of a vocational expert, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was capable of working as a nut and bolt assembler, ticket seller, and a cleaner/housekeeper - jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. Given her age, education, and exertional capacity for unskilled light work, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Medical-Vocational Guidelines. See id. at 25-26.

Plaintiff appealed that decision to the Appeals Council. The Council affirmed.

Plaintiff then filed this action in federal district court. Plaintiff challenges the hearing decision on two general grounds: (1) substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's final decision that Plaintiff was not disabled and (2) the ALJ committed an error under Stone v. Heckler, 752 F.2d 1099 (5th Cir. 1985), in making his findings. See Dkt. No. 17 at 1. With respect to her substantial evidence argument, Plaintiff more particularly argues that the ALJ's RFC did not support his conclusion that she could perform the jobs identified by the vocational expert. See Dkt. No. 17 at 12. Plaintiff claims that the vocational expert's testimony and conclusions did not take into account Plaintiff's inability to perform substantially all of the requirements of the jobs she identified. See id.

The Court determines that the hearing decision should be affirmed in all respects.

Legal Standards

Judicial review in social security cases is limited to determining whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence and whether the proper legal standards were used to evaluate the evidence. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Ripley v. Chater, 67 F.3d 552, 555 (5th Cir. 1995). Substantial evidence is "more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). The Commissioner, rather than the courts, must resolve conflicts in the evidence, including weighing conflicting testimony and determining witnesses' credibility, and the Court does not try the issues de novo. See Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 174 (5th Cir. 1995); Greenspan v. Shalala, 38 F.3d 232, 237 (5th Cir. 1994). This Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for the Commissioner's but must scrutinize the entire record to ascertain whether substantial evidence supports the hearing decision. See Hollis v. Bowen, 837 F.2d 1378, 1383 (5th Cir. 1988).

A disabled worker is entitled to monthly social security benefits if certain conditions are met. 42 U.S.C. § 423(a). The Act defines "disability" as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or last for a continued period of 12 months. See id. § 423(d)(1)(A); see also Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 393 (5th Cir. 1985). The Commissioner has promulgated a five-step sequential evaluation process that must be followed in making a disability determination:

1. The hearing officer must ascertain whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity. A claimant who is working is not disabled regardless of the medical findings.
2. The hearing officer must determine whether the claimed impairment is "severe." A "severe impairment" must significantly limit the claimant's physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. This determination must be made solely on the basis of the medical evidence.
3. The hearing officer must decide if the impairment meets or equals in severity certain impairments described in Appendix 1 of the regulations. The hearing officer must make this determination using only medical evidence.
4. If the claimant has a "severe impairment" covered by the regulations, the hearing officer must determine whether the claimant can perform his or ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.