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Charles Woodbury Jr v. Michael J. Astrue

November 16, 2011

CHARLES WOODBURY JR.,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jean Rosenbluthu.s. Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Charles Woodbury Jr. brings this action seeking to overturn the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying him Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned U.S. Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). This matter is before the Court on the parties' Joint Stipulation, filed October 27, 2011. For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed an application for SSI on November 19, 2008.*fn1

(Administrative Record ("AR") 130-36.) Plaintiff listed June 1, 1991, as the onset date of his disability. (AR 130.) The Commissioner denied benefits on February 17, 2009. (AR 52-56.) Plaintiff submitted a request for reconsideration on March 11, 2009. (AR 57.) On April 17, 2009, the Commissioner denied Plaintiff's request for reconsideration. (AR 58-63.) On May 5, 2009, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). (AR 66.)

On May 11, 2010, Plaintiff's hearing proceeded before ALJ Jay Levine.*fn2 (AR 22-47.) The ALJ denied benefits on June 24, 2010. (AR 9-21.) On July 13, 2010, Plaintiff requested Appeals Council review. (AR 4.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on January 29, 2011. (AR 1-3.) On February 24, 2011, Plaintiff lodged the instant Complaint.

Plaintiff does not challenge any aspect of the ALJ's decision other than his determination, at step five of the process, that Plaintiff could perform certain jobs. Plaintiff's only claim is that the vocational expert's ("VE's") testimony conflicted with the description of the jobs in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") and the ALJ did not clarify the inconsistencies, and therefore the Commissioner's decision must be reversed and the matter remanded for a new hearing. (J. Stip. at 3-4.)

FACTUAL HISTORY

A. Generally

Claimant was born on January 23, 1957. (AR 17.) He has a 12th-grade education. (Id.) He claims to have been disabled since June 1, 1991, based on a seizure disorder, and not to have worked since then.*fn3 (AR 14.)

B. The Medical Evidence*fn4

As the ALJ found, many if not most of Plaintiff's recent medical tests performed by his treating physicians produced normal results despite Plaintiff's seizure disorder. (AR 14-16.) On July 7, 2007, a CT scan of Plaintiff's head was negative for abnormalities. (AR 282-83.) On October 12, 2007, the results of an EEG*fn5 test were within normal limits. (AR 279.) On December 18, 2007, Plaintiff visited the Loma Linda VA Medical Center emergency room, where the results of a physical and mental examination were normal. (AR 268-72.) On March 5, 2008, Plaintiff was examined by Dr. Tom Bohr, a neurologist. (AR 264-67.) The doctor found that Plaintiff was alert and oriented, had normal language and speech, had 5/5 motor strength, had normal gait, and possessed intact sensory perceptions. (Id.) He found no objective evidence of epilepsy, and two EEGs were normal. (Id.) Plaintiff was treated at the Loma Linda emergency room on April 21, 2008, but the doctors there found that he was neurologically within normal limits, with no head trauma, dizziness, or slurred speech. (AR 259-61.) On October 22, 2008, two EEGs were again normal, and his seizures were found to have decreased in frequency as a result of various medications. (AR 220.) On November 7, 2008, an ophthalmologist found that plaintiff's eyesight was 20/20 and his refractive error could be corrected through the use of over-the-counter reading glasses. (AR 216-17.) On January 20, 2010, an exam found the frequency of Plaintiff's seizures to be reduced. (AR 317.)

Plaintiff's mental state was also generally assessed to be normal. On December 18, 2007, his mental state was assessed as normal during the visit to the Loma Linda emergency room. (AR 271.) At the April 21, 2008, exam, his mental status examination was overall "within normal limits" (AR 261); the same was true for an August 30, 2008, visit (AR 236). On January 28, 2009, Plaintiff was examined by a psychologist, who diagnosed "personality disorder not otherwise specified with antisocial features and borderline intellectual functioning." (AR 293.) She found that he was "not severely mentally impaired, indicating only some mild symptoms or some difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning, but generally functioning ...


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