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Saltsman v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

September 26, 2014

WILLIAM SALTSMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

H. BRENT BRENNENSTUHL, Magistrate Judge.

BACKGROUND

Before the Court is the complaint (DN 1) of William Saltsman ("Plaintiff") seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Both the Plaintiff (DN 20, DN16) and Defendant (DN 18) have filed a Fact and Law Summary.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, the parties have consented to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge conducting all further proceedings in this case, including issuance of a memorandum opinion and entry of judgment, with direct review by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the event an appeal is filed (DN 11). By Order entered May 30, 2014 (DN 12), the parties were notified that oral arguments would not be held unless a written request therefor was filed and granted. No such request was filed.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Plaintiff filed applications for Period of Disability, Disability Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income payments on March 3, 2011 (Tr. 201, 203). Plaintiff alleges that he became disabled on July 15, 2008 as a result of back problems, diabetes, vision problems, neck problems, right arm problems, and high blood pressure (Tr. 232). Administrative Law Judge Scott M. Staller ("ALJ") conducted a video hearing from Baltimore, Maryland on August 30, 2012 (Tr. 39). Plaintiff and his attorney, Mike Breen, attended the hearing in Bowling Green, Kentucky (Tr. 39). Also present and testifying was Arthur M. Brown, an impartial vocational expert (Tr. 40).

In a decision dated October 9, 2012, the ALJ evaluated this adult disability claim pursuant to the five-step sequential evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner (Tr. 21-33). At the first step, the ALJ found Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 15, 2008, the alleged onset date (Tr. 23). At the second step, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, scoliosis, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, major depressive disorder, a generalized anxiety disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning are "severe" impairments within the meaning of the regulations (Tr. 23). At the third step, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in Appendix 1 (Tr. 23).

At the fourth step, the ALJ found Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform light work with limitations (Tr. 26). More specifically, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could:

occasionally climb ramps or stairs, but never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He could frequently balance and occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl. The claimant must avoid even moderate exposure to dangerous moving machinery and unprotected heights. He must avoid concentrated exposure to excessive vibrations and extreme cold. The claimant would be able to understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions; make judgments on simple work related decisions; interact appropriately with the public, supervisors, and coworkers in a routine work setting; respond to usual work situations and to changes in a routine work setting; maintain attention and concentration for two-hour segments over an eight-hour period; and complete a normal workweek without excessive interruptions from psychologically or physically based symptoms. The claimant would also need verbal instructions to be given to him at work.

(Tr. 26).

Relying on testimony from the vocational expert, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to perform any of his past relevant work as a truck driver, school bus driver, and front-end loader (Tr. 31).

The ALJ proceeded to the fifth step where he considered Plaintiff's residual functional capacity, age, education, and past work experience as well as testimony from the vocational expert (Tr. 31). The ALJ found that Plaintiff is capable of performing a significant number of jobs that exist in the national economy (Tr. 31). Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has not been under a "disability, " as defined in the Social Security Act, from July 15, 2008 through October 9, 2012, the date of the decision (Tr. 32-33).

Plaintiff timely filed a request for the Appeals Council to review the ALJ's decision (Tr. 16). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-3).

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

The Social Security Act authorizes payment of Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income to persons with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq. (Title II Disability Insurance Benefits), 1381 et seq. (Title XVI Supplemental Security Income). The term "disability" is defined as an

[i]nability 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 of not less than twelve (12) months.

42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A) (Title II), 1382c(a)(3)(A) (Title XVI); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a); Barnhart v. Walton , 535 U.S. 212, 214 (2002); Abbott v. ...


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