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Cercoply v. Colvin

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

September 27, 2016

NORMAN CERCOPLY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security; Defendant.

          ORDER

          THOMAS E. ROGERS, III UNITED STATES 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. A telephone conference was held on September 22, 2016.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB on February 26, 2008, alleging inability to work since May 20, 2007. His claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing. A hearing was held on September 3, 2009, at which time the Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued a partially-favorable decision on November 19, 2009, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled prior to September 21, 2009. (Tr.18-23). Plaintiff filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision, which the Appeals Council denied on June 24, 2011, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-4). Plaintiff filed an action in this court on August 18, 2011. The court reversed the Commissioner's decision and remanded the case in an order dated February 22, 2013. See Cercoply v. Commissioner of Social Security, No. 4:11-cv-2186-TER (D.S.C. Feb. 22, 2013). On April 15, 2013, the Appeals Council affirmed the decision that Plaintiff is disabled commencing September 21, 2009, and remanded to the ALJ for “further proceedings consistent with the order of the court.” (Tr. 463). The ALJ held a second hearing on November 21, 2013, and issued a written decision on March 19, 2014, finding Plaintiff was not disabled for the period of May 20, 2007, through September 20, 2009. (Tr. 402-409). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 384-386, 390-394). This appeal followed.

         B. Plaintiff's Background and Medical History

         1. Introductory Facts

         Plaintiff was born on September 21, 1954, and was 52 years old at the time of the alleged onset. (Tr. 131, 418). Plaintiff completed his education through high school and has past relevant work experience as a manager, subcontractor, construction superintendent, and carpenter. (Tr. 222, 418). Plaintiff alleges disability due to blindness in his right eye, additional visual problems and depression. (Tr. 129-134, 153).

         C. The Administrative Process and the ALJ's Decision

         In the decision of March 19, 2014, the ALJ made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2012.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from his alleged onset date of May 20, 2007, through September 20, 2009 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. During the relevant period, the claimant had the following severe impairments: retinal detachment of the right eye and proliferative vitreoretinopathy (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. During the relevant period, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled 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, I find that during the relevant period, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except that the claimant was precluded from jobs requiring climbing ropes and ladders and he must avoid moving machinery. He is unable to perform jobs requiring depth perception or use of vision of the right side, is limited to occasional near visual acuity and no working with crowds of people.
6. During the relevant period, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on September 21, 1954, and was 52 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the alleged date (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
9. 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).
10. Through the date last insured, 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 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from May 20, 2007, the alleged onset date through ...

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