Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Christopherson v. Colvin

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

December 19, 2016

Jerry Christopherson, Plaintiff,
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Kevin F. McDonald, United States Magistrate Judge

         This case is before the court for a report and recommendation pursuant to Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a)(D.S.C.), concerning the disposition of Social Security cases in this District, and Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B).[1]

         The plaintiff brought this action pursuant to Sections 205(g) and 1631(c)(3) of the Social Security Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 405(g) and 1383(c)(3)), to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his claims for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.

         ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

         The plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”) benefits on March 29, 2012, and March 31, 2012, respectively, alleging that he became unable to work on December 15, 2011. The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration by the Social Security Administration. On September 21, 2012, the plaintiff requested a hearing. The administrative law judge (“ALJ”), before whom the plaintiff, his attorney, and Pedro M.

         Roman, an impartial vocational expert, appeared at a video hearing on January 16, 2014, considered the case de novo, and on June 13, 2014, found that the plaintiff was not under a disability as defined in the Social Security Act, as amended. The ALJ's finding became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security when the Appeals Council denied the plaintiff's request for review on September 25, 2015 (Tr. 1-3). The plaintiff then filed this action for judicial review.

         In making the determination that the plaintiff is not entitled to benefits, the Commissioner has adopted the following findings of the ALJ:

(1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2016.
(2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 15, 2011, the alleged onset date (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1571 et seq. and 416.971 et seq.).
(3) The claimant has the following severe impairment: Degenerative Disc Disease with Status Post L4-5 Decompression (20 C.F.R. §§ 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 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. §§ 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 stand or walk for approximately 4-6 hours in an 8hour workday with normal breaks; sit for approximately 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks; frequently use his upper extremities bilaterally; the claimant can occasionally operate foot controls bilaterally; cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; can occasionally balance, and may require the use of a hand-held assistive device (e.g. a cane) when balancing (and walking) on uneven terrain or prolonged ambulation (i.e., walking of more than one hour at time), and if using a cane, can use the contra-lateral upper extremity to lift and carry up to the exertional limits described above, can occasionally stoop, kneel, crawl, or climb ramps and stairs; cannot crouch; and should avoid even moderate exposure to hazards (moving machinery, unprotected heights). Additionally, the claimant is limited to work involving simple, routine, and repetitive tasks (this is due to the side effects of medications, and in giving the claimant the benefit of the doubt as to complaints of pain; it is not due to any established or alleged mental impairments).
(6) The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1565 and 416.965).
(7) The claimant was born on August 31, 1965, and was 46 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563 and 416.963).
(8) The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 C.F.R. §§ 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 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
(10) 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 C.F.R. §§ 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 December 15, 2011, through the date of this decision (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

         The only issues before the court are whether proper legal standards were applied and whether the final decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         The Social Security 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). “Disability” is defined in 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A) 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 at least 12 consecutive months.

         To facilitate a uniform and efficient processing of disability claims, the Social Security Act has by regulation reduced the statutory definition of “disability” to a series of five sequential questions. An examiner must consider whether the claimant (1) is engaged in substantial gainful activity, (2) has a severe impairment, (3) has an impairment that equals an illness contained in the Social Security Administration's Official Listings of Impairments found at 20 C.F.R. Part 4, Subpart P, App. 1, (4) has an impairment that prevents past relevant work, and (5) has an impairment that prevents him from doing substantial gainful employment. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. If an individual is found not disabled at any step, further inquiry is unnecessary. Id. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4).

         A plaintiff is not disabled within the meaning of the Act if he can return to past relevant work as it is customarily performed in the economy or as the claimant actually performed the work. SSR 82-62, 1982 WL 31386, at *3. The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing his inability to work within the meaning of the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(5). He must make a prima facie showing of disability by showing he is unable to return to his past relevant work. Grant v. Schweiker, 699 F.2d 189, 191 (4th Cir. 1983).

         Once an individual has established an inability to return to his past relevant work, the burden is on the Commissioner to come forward with evidence that the plaintiff can perform alternative work and that such work exists in the regional economy. The Commissioner may carry the burden of demonstrating the existence of jobs available in the national economy which the plaintiff can perform despite the existence ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.