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Miller v. Colvin

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

September 16, 2014

CHRIS ALLEN MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, [1] ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

ORDER

THOMAS E. ROGERS, III, Magistrate Judge.

This is an action brought pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 405(g), to obtain judicial review of a "final decision" of the Commissioner of Social Security, denying Plaintiff's claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The only issues before the Court are whether the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence and whether proper legal standards have been applied. This case is before the court pursuant to Local Rule 83.VII.02, D.S.C., concerning the disposition of Social Security cases in this District on consent of the parties. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Plaintiff filed an application on April 13, 2010 for SSI, alleging disability since March 15, 2009. A hearing was held by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on November 10, 2011. The ALJ found in a decision dated February 16, 2012, that Plaintiff was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Plaintiff filed this action on July 15, 2013, in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.

II. INTRODUCTORY FACTS

Plaintiff was born on December 29, 1967, and was 42 years old on the date the application was filed. (Tr. 25). Plaintiff has a high school education and past relevant work experience as a floor department manager and a flooring installer. (Tr. 25). In his brief, Plaintiff indicates that he alleges disability due to the following impairments: lower extremity swelling, lumbar radiculopathy, angina, diabetes, hiatal hernia, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, Hepatitis C, abdominal pain, pancreatitis, chronic pain, tingling, both feet, low back pain, sciatica, lumbar disc disease, numbness and tingling (hands), hands, right knee problems, arthritis, hypertension, lumbar HNP, neuritis or radiculitis, migraines, hydrocephalus/headaches/vision loss.

III. THE ALJ'S DECISION

In the decision of February 16, 2012, the ALJ found the following:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 13, 2010, the application date (20 CFR 416.971, et seq. ).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: status post three back surgeries, hepatitis C and GERD (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. 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 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b). Specifically, I find that he can stand, sit or walk for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. I also find that he can lift 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. I further find that he can frequently balance, but can only occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl and climb ramps/stairs. He can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. Finally, I find that he must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work. (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on December 29, 1967 and was 42 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. 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 (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 416.969 and 416.969(a)).
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from April 13, 2010, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).

(Tr. 14-27).

The Commissioner argues that the ALJ's decision was based on substantial evidence and that the phrase "substantial evidence" means "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 390-401, (1971). Under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405 (g), the scope of review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to: (1) whether the decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence and (2) whether the legal conclusions of the Commissioner are correct under controlling law. Myers v. Califano , 611 F.2d 980, 982-83 (4th Cir. 1988); Richardson v. Califano , 574 F.2d 802 (4th Cir. 1978). "Substantial evidence" is that evidence which a "reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson , 402 U.S. at 390. Such evidence is generally equated with the amount of evidence necessary to avoid a directed verdict. Shively v. Heckler , 739 F.2d 987, 989 (4th Cir. 1984). The Court's scope of review is specific and narrow. It does not ...


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