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Matranga v. Colvin

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

August 1, 2016

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.



         Plaintiff Steven Wayne Matranga, through counsel, brought this action to obtain judicial review of an unfavorable final administrative decision denying benefits on his October 20, 2009, applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under the Social Security Act (“Act”). (R. 246-56.) See Section 205(g) of the SSA, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 405(g). This matter was referred to the Magistrate Judge for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a), D.S.C., and Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B).

         Procedural History and ALJ's Findings

         The Plaintiff was born September 2, 1963, and was 46 years old on the alleged onset of disability date, September 12, 2009. (R. 246, 253.) On his applications for DIB and SSI, the Plaintiff claimed disability due to degenerative disc disease (“DDD”) of the entire spine, bulging annuli of the thoracic and cervical spine, gastrointestinal impairments, somatoform disorder, depression, and anxiety. (R. 394.) The Plaintiff's claims were initially denied and denied on reconsideration. Following a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied his claim on June 9, 2011. The Plaintiff appealed to the Appeals Council, and the Appeals Council remanded the case back to the ALJ. The Plaintiff appeared before a new ALJ on July 19, 2013. On November 13, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. (R. 28.) The Plaintiff again appealed to the Appeals Council but was denied. The Plaintiff has exhausted his administrative remedies. The ALJ's decision is now the Commissioner's final action for purposes of judicial review. In making the determination that the Plaintiff is not entitled to benefits, the Commissioner adopted the following findings of the ALJ's November 13, 2013 Decision:

(1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2010.
(2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 12, 2009, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
(3) The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of spine, obesity, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and somatoform disorder (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, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c) except the claimant can perform only simple tasks, no detailed or complex tasks. The claimant can perform a low stress job, which I am defining as requiring occasional decision making, occasional adaptation to change in work setting, and no high production based tasks such as high volume assembly line work. The claimant can have superficial contact with the public, but should not perform customer service work, counter work, or sales.
(6) The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a production line order puller, DOT Number 922.687-058, SVP2, unskilled work. 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 September 12, 2009, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)).

(R. 11-28.)

         Applicable Law

         The Act provides that disability benefits shall be available to those persons insured for benefits, who are not of retirement age, who properly apply, and who are under a “disability.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(a). The Act also provides that SSI disability benefits shall be available for aged, blind, or disabled persons who have income and resources below a specific amount. See 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq. “Disability” is defined in the Act as the inability to “engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period ...

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