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Brown v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

June 6, 2014

Todd M. Brown, Plaintiff,
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

KEVIN F. McDONALD, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the court for a report and recommendation pursuant to Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a) DSC, concerning the disposition of Social Security cases in this District, and Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B).[2]

The plaintiff brought this action pursuant to Sections 205(g) and 1631(c)(3) of the Social Security Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 405(g) and 1383(c)(3)), to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security granting benefits starting October 26, 2010, but denying his claims for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act before that date.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

On July 18, 2008, an administrative law judge ("ALJ") rendered an unfavorable decision on the plaintiff's prior claim for disability and disability insurance benefits. The plaintiff did not appeal this denial. As a result, the theory of res judicata applies to the time period of January 19, 2006, the alleged onset date, to July 18, 2008. On April 30, 2010, the plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits alleging that he became unable to work on January 19, 2006. The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration by the Social Security Administration. On March 7, 2011, the plaintiff requested a hearing. The ALJ, before whom the plaintiff and Feryal Jubran, an impartial vocational expert, appeared on October 5, 2011, considered the case de novo and, on November 7, 2011, issued a partially favorable decision granting benefits beginning October 26, 2010, but denying benefits before that date (Tr. 91-100). The ALJ's finding became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security when it was approved by the Appeals Council on February 20, 2013. The plaintiff then filed this action for judicial review.

In making the determination that the plaintiff was not entitled to benefits prior to October 26, 2010, the Commissioner has adopted the following findings of the ALJ:

(1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2011.
(2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 18, 2008 (20 C.F.R §§ 404.1571 et seq. and 416.971 et seq. ).
(3) Since July 18, 2008, the claimant has had the following severe impairments: morbid obesity; and lumbar radiculopathy with chronic regional pain syndrome of the right lower extremity.
Since the established onset date of disability, October 26, 2010, the claimant has also had the following severe impairments: residuals of left biceps tendon rupture; peripheral vascular disease with cyanosis of bilateral feet; and substance abuse disorder (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
(4) Since July 19, 2008, the claimant has not had 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 (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
(5) After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that from July 19, 2008, to October 26, 2010, the date the claimant became disabled, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light[3] work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b).
(6) After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that since October 26, 2010, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform less than the full range of sedentary[4] work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) with the following additional limitations: occasional use of his bilateral lower extremities; occasional climbing of stairs and ramps; never climbing ladders; occasional balancing with an assistive device; occasional stooping, kneeling, and crawling; avoiding heights, hazardous machines, and dust; and being off task 1/3 of the day due to pain symptoms.
(7) Since January 19, 2006, the claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1565 and 416.965).
(8) Prior to the established disability onset date, the claimant was a younger individual age 18-49. The claimant's age category has not changed since the established disability onset date (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563 and 416.963).
(9) The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1564 and 416.964).
(10) Prior to October 26, 2010, transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because applying the Medical Vocational Rules directly supports a finding of "not disabled" whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills to other occupations ( See SSR 82-41 and 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P. Appendix 2).
(11) Prior to October 26, 2010, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could have performed (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1569, 404.1569a, 416.969, and 416.969a).
(12) Beginning on October 26, 2010, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are no jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1560(c), 404.1566, 416.960, and 416.966)
(13) The claimant was not disabled prior to October 26, 2010, but became disabled on that date and has continued to be disabled through the date of this decision (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
(14) The claimant's substance use disorder is not a contributing factor material to the determination of disability (20 ...

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