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Cornick v. Colvin

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

November 7, 2016

BRIAN CORNICK, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          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) and 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 was referred to the undersigned for a report and recommendation pursuant to Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a), (D.S.C.).

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         On June 7, 2013, the Plaintiff filed an application for DIB and SSI alleging disability since August 18, 2012. The claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 97-104, 109-12). A hearing was held by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on March 27, 2015. (Tr. 22-48). The ALJ found in a decision dated April 15, 2015, that Plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 11-21). On July 31, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review. (Tr. 1-4). Plaintiff filed this action on August 27, 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 August 16, 1962, and was 50 years old on the alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 21). Plaintiff has at least a high school education and past relevant work experience as a tool room attendant, an auto salesperson and repairer, a heavy wheel/equipment mechanic, and a quality control inspector. Plaintiff alleges disability primarily due to his degenerative disc disease.

         2. The ALJ's Decision

         In the decision of April 25, 2015, the ALJ found the following:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2018.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 18, 2012, 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 (DDD), osteoarthritis of the left hip, and degenerative changes of the right shoulder. (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, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), except that he can frequently balance, occasionally climb ramps or stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl, but never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. He can occasionally reach overhead and frequently reach out bilaterally. He needs a sit/stand option at his workstation every 60 minutes and can never drive.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on August 16, 1962, and was 50 years old, which is defined as an individual approaching advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
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. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from August 18, 2012, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

(Tr. 13-21).

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in her decision, and requests that the decision of the Defendant be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. (Pl. Br. at 12). Specifically, Plaintiff ...


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