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Patrick Pinegar v. Commissioner of the Social Security Administration

February 10, 2011

PATRICK PINEGAR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits under Title XVI*fn1 of the Social Security Act ("Act").*fn2 (Dkt. No. 21.) The Commissioner filed an opposition to plaintiff's motion and a cross-motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 26.) For the reasons that follow, the court will deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, grant the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment, and direct the Clerk of Court to enter judgment in favor of the Commissioner.

I. BACKGROUND*fn3

Plaintiff was 51 years old on the amended alleged disability onset date, and was 53 years old at the time that the ALJ's entered his decision denying plaintiff's application. (See Administrative Transcript ("AT") 23, 33.) Plaintiff attended high school through the twelfth grade and obtained a GED. (AT 43.) Plaintiff previously worked as a parts puller/ supervisor. (AT 23.) Plaintiff alleges he is disabled due to bi-polar disorder, possible adult attention deficit disorder (not yet diagnosed), and a heart murmur. (AT 82, 87, 99, 105.)

A. Procedural Background

In a decision dated January 22, 2009, the ALJ denied plaintiff's application. (See

AT 16-25.) As discussed below, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was able to perform jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy and that plaintiff has not been under a disability from January 22, 2007, through the date of the ALJ's decision. (AT 24.) The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. (AT 1-3.)

Plaintiff subsequently filed this action. Plaintiff contends the ALJ improperly evaluated whether a Listing was met, improperly disregarded record medical opinions, improperly discredited plaintiff and a laywitness, and relied on an incomplete hypothetical posed to the vocational expert in finding plaintiff is not disabled.

B. Summary of the ALJ's Findings

The ALJ conducted the required five-step, sequential evaluation and concluded that plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act.*fn4 At step one, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 22, 2007, the alleged date of onset. (AT 18.) At step two, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff had the "severe" impairments of "cognitive disorder NOS, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, in recent remission, diabetes mellitus, mild heart disease, and mild degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine." (AT 18.) At step three, the ALJ found that plaintiff's did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled any impairment listed in the applicable regulations. The ALJ specifically addressed whether plaintiff meets or medically equals Listing 12.04 (AT 18-19.)

The ALJ next assessed plaintiff's residual functional capacity ("RFC"). The ALJ found that:

[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c) except work that is unskilled. (AT 20.)*fn5 In making such a finding, the ALJ found plaintiff only partially credible. (AT 23.)

At step four, the ALJ found that plaintiff's RFC precluded plaintiff from performing his past relevant work as a parts puller/supervisor. (AT 23.) At step five, relying on the testimony of a vocational expert, the ALJ found plaintiff could perform work as a janitor, laundry laborer, and machine washer, and that these jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy. (AT 24.) Accordingly, the ALJ found ...


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