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Pidgeon v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

September 28, 2018

CHRISTOPHER C. PIDGEON, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          COLIN H. LINDSAY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Before the Court is the Complaint (DN 1) of Plaintiff, Christopher C. Pidgeon (“Plaintiff”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the “Commissioner”). See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2012) (“Any individual, after any final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security . . . may obtain a review of such decision by a civil action commenced within sixty days after the mailing to him of notice of such decision . . . .”). Plaintiff filed a Fact and Law Summary. (DN 11.) The Commissioner also filed a Fact and Law Summary. (DN 13.)

         The Parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to enter judgment in this case with direct review by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the event an appeal is filed. (DN 10.) Therefore, this matter is ripe for review. For the reasons below, the final decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits on January 29, 2014. (R. at 199-202.) On December 1, 2015, Administrate Law Judge Candace A. McDaniel (the “ALJ”) conducted a hearing on Plaintiff's application. (Id. at 39-96.) In a decision dated, February 17, 2016, the ALJ engaged in the five-step evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner to determine whether an individual is disabled. (Id. at 9-31.) In doing so, the ALJ made these findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2016. (Id. at 14.)
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 27, 2011, the alleged onset date. (Id.)
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: cerebral trauma, dysfunction of major joints, multiple bone fractures, degenerative disc disease, obesity, organic mental disorder, depression, and history of substance abuse. (Id. at 15)
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. (Id.)
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a reduced range of light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b), but with the following specific limitations: the claimant can lift and carry 10 pounds frequently and 20 pounds occasionally and he cannot reach overhead with his left arm. He can stand and or walk for six hours in an eight-hour workday; and sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday; however, the ability to alternate positions every 30 to 60 minutes where the change would take no more than one to three minutes without leaving the workspace should be allowed. The claimant cannot work around hazards, including unprotected heights or the operation of exposed moving machinery that cuts or grinds and that fails to stop when human contact is lost. He can perform no activities around large bodies of water and cannot climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds, or stairs. The claimant can occasionally stoop, crouch, crawl, kneel, and climb ramps. Additionally, he should have no concentrated exposure to vibration. Use of his left index finger is limited to occasional fine manipulation, but gross manipulation can be performed frequently. The claimant can understand, remember, and carryout simple oral instructions requiring brief learning periods; interact appropriately with supervisors and coworkers for task completion with no interaction with the public for task completion; maintain attention and concentration for two-hour segments throughout an eight-hour workday; and can adapt to routine changes gradually introduced in this setting. (Id. at 18.)
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work. (Id. at 29.)
7. The claimant was born on April 21, 1975 and was 36 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date. (Id.)
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English. (Id.)
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 transferrable job skills. (Id. at 30.)
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant No. in the national economy that the claimant can perform. (Id.)
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act from October 17, 2011, through the date of this decision. (Id. at 31.)

         Plaintiff requested an appeal to the Appeals Council, which denied his request for review on March 15, 2017. (Id. at 1-3.) At that point, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 422.210(a); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(h) (discussing finality of the Commissioner's decision). Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 422.210(c), Plaintiff is presumed to have received that decision five days later on March 20, 2017. Plaintiff filed this action on June May 11, 2017. (DN 1.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Social Security Act authorizes payments of disability insurance benefits to persons with disabilities. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 - 434 (2017). Specifically, anyone who is insured for disability insurance benefits, has not attained retirement age, has filed an application for benefits, and is under a disability is entitled to benefits. 42 U.S.C. § 423(a)(1); see also Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997). An individual shall be considered “disabled” if he or she is unable “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 12 months . . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a) (2017).

         A. ...


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