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Michael Maldonado v. Michael J. Astrue

June 28, 2011

MICHAEL MALDONADO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jay C. Gandhi United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

On October 13, 2010, plaintiff Michael Maldonado ("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. 3.]

On April 8, 2011, Defendant filed his answer, along with a certified copy of the administrative record. [Docket Nos. 11, 12, 13.]

In sum, having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties' joint stipulation and the administrative record, the Court concludes that, as detailed below, there is substantial evidence in the record, taken as a whole, to support the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Thus, the Court affirms the Commissioner's decision denying benefits.

II. PERTINENT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, who was 46 years old on the date of his administrative hearing, has an associate degree in telecommunications. (See Administrative Record ("AR") at 27, 32-33, 93, 121.)

On August 22, 2008, Plaintiff protectively filed for SSI, and on September 16, 2008, filed for DIB, alleging in both applications that he has been disabled since July 7, 2008 due to diabetes and depression. (See AR at 11, 63-66, 67, 74, 98, 113, 116.)

On April 21, 2010, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, appeared and testified at a hearing before an ALJ. (See AR at 27-62.) Victoria Ray, a vocational expert ("VE"), also testified. (Id.)

On May 28, 2010, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's request for benefits. (AR at 11-18.) Applying the well-known five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date. (Id. at 13.)

At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffers from severe diabetes mellitus. (AR at 13.)

At step three, the ALJ determined that the evidence did not demonstrate that Plaintiff's impairment, either individually or in combination, met or medically equaled the severity of any listing set forth in the Social Security regulations.*fn1 (AR at 15.)

The ALJ then assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity*fn2 ("RFC") and determined that he can perform medium work, with the following specifications: "lift and carry 50 pounds occasionally, 25 pounds occasionally; no sitting, standing or walking limitations; avoid climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; no twisting; moderate pain symptoms that are controlled with medication; slight problems with fatigue; and slight loss of concentration, memory and focus due to the alleged mental impairments." (AR at 15 (emphasis omitted).)

The ALJ found, at step four, that Plaintiff has the ability to perform his past relevant work as a car detailer, gaming dealer, and automobile driver. (AR at 17-18.) Thus, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not suffering ...


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