The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jay C. Gandhi United States Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY On December 4, 2009, plaintiff Isom Teague ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint against defendant Michael J. Astrue ("Defendant" or "Commissioner"), the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, seeking review of a denial of disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income benefits ("SSI"). [Docket No. 4.]
On March 1, 2010, Defendant filed his answer, along with a certified copy of the administrative record. [Docket Nos. 11, 12, 13.]
On April 14, 2010, this matter was transferred to the calendar of the undersigned Magistrate Judge. [Docket No. 16.] Both Plaintiff and Defendant subsequently consented to proceed for all purposes before the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). [Docket Nos. 17, 22.]
Pursuant to a December 4, 2009 order regarding further proceedings, Plaintiff submitted a brief in support of his complaint ("Plaintiff's Brief") on May 4, 2010. [Docket No. 18.] On June 3, 2010, Defendant submitted his opposition brief ("Defendant's Brief"). [Docket No. 26.] The Court deems the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.
In sum, having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties' written submissions and the administrative record, the Court concludes that, as detailed below, any error the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") made in overlooking to list Plaintiff's prostatitis as severe at step two was harmless. Thus, the Court affirms the Commissioner's decision denying benefits.
PERTINENT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND Plaintiff has a high school education and was 43 years old on the date of his administrative hearing. (See Administrative Record ("AR") at 57, 329, 333.) His past relevant work includes employment as a security guard and as a chief guard. (Id. at 34, 340.)
On December 6, 2006, Plaintiff filed for DIB and SSI, alleging that he has been disabled since January 29, 2004 due to impairments in his lower back and testicles and numbness in both of his legs. (See AR at 162, 164, 178.) Plaintiff's applications, which were designated as "prototype" cases,1/ were denied on March 29, 2007, after which he filed a timely request for a hearing. (Id. at 162, 164, 169.)
On February 4, 2008, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, appeared and testified at a hearing before an ALJ. (See AR at 329-43.) Sandra Trost, a vocational expert
1/ A "prototype case" designates a single decision maker to make the initial determination and eliminates the reconsideration step in the administrative review process. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.906(a) & 416.1406(a).
("VE"), also testified. (See id.)
On March 5, 2008, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's request for benefits. (AR at 29-35.) Applying the five-step sequential evaluation process -- which is discussed below -- the ALJ found, at step one, that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date of disability. (Id. at 31.) At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffers from a severe impairment consisting of a back disorder. (Id.)
At step three, the ALJ determined that the evidence does not demonstrate that Plaintiff's impairment, either individually or in combination, meet or medically equal the severity of any listing set forth in the Social Security regulations.2/ (AR at 32.)
The ALJ then assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity3/ ("RFC") and determined that he can perform light work. (AR at 32.) Specifically, the ALJ found that Plaintiff "is capable of lifting and carrying 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently and can sit, stand and walk for 6 hours out of an 8 hour day. He can push and pull ...