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Smith v. Colvin

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

July 29, 2016

ALBERT SMITH, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Albert Smith, Jr, Plaintiff, represented by J. Leeds Barroll, IV, J Leeds Barroll Law Office.

          Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant, represented by Marshall Prince, U.S. Attorneys Office.

          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 Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB). 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. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         The Plaintiff, Albert Smith, filed an application for DIB on April 11, 2011, alleging disability beginning November 22, 2010. His application was denied at all administrative levels, and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing. A hearing was held on July 24, 2013, at which time the Plaintiff, Plaintiff's spouse, a friend of Plaintiff, and a vocational expert (VE) testified. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision on December 13, 2013, finding Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. (Tr. 8-29). On February 18, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-6). The Appeals Council's denial of Plaintiff's request for review made the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. Plaintiff filed this action on March 10, 2015, in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.

         B. Plaintiff's Background and Medical History

         1. Introductory Facts

         Plaintiff was born on January 2, 1964, and was 46 years old on the alleged onset date. Plaintiff has past relevant work as a forklift driver, truck driver, and general labor. Plaintiff has at least a high school education and alleges disability beginning November 22, 2010.

         2. Medical Records and Opinions

         The ALJ provided a detailed summary of the medical evidence, the various physicians' opinions, as well as Plaintiff's testimony, which the Court adopts to the extent that it is consistent with this decision. Additional factual details will be added where necessary to address the issues raised by the parties.

         2. The ALJ's Decision In the decision of December 13, 2013, the ALJ found the following:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2016.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 22, 2010, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: broken facial bones, degenerative disc disease (DDD), degenerative joint disease (DJD. upper left extremity (ULE) and cognitive disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(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 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except with no climbing of ladders, ropes or scaffolds; occasional climbing of ramps or stairs; occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching and crawling; limited to occasional overhead reaching with left upper extremity; avoidance of unprotected heights and dangerous equipment. He is further limited to simple unskilled work.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work. (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on January 2, 1964, and was 46 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged ...

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