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Curtis L. Parker v. Michael J. Astrue

December 2, 2011

CURTIS L. PARKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR B. Kenton United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

(Social Security Case)

This matter is before the Court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the Magistrate Judge. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the record before the Commissioner. The parties have filed the Joint Stipulation ("JS"), and the Commissioner has filed the certified Administrative Record ("AR").

Plaintiff raises the following issues:

1. Whether the finding that Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform a slightly reduced range of light work is based on a legally proper analysis, including a proper rejection of the residual functional capacity assessments of examining physician Dr. Nassir;

2. Whether the finding that Plaintiff's testimony regarding the nature and extent of his limitations is not credible is supported by substantial evidence; and

3. Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") erred at Step Five in finding that Plaintiff is not disabled without obtaining the testimony of a vocational expert.

(JS at 6.)

This Memorandum Opinion will constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed.

I THE ALJ PROPERLY ASSESSED PLAINTIFF'S RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY

In his first issue, Plaintiff asserts that in assessing his residual functional capacity ("RFC"), the ALJ improperly rejected or discounted the opinion of examining physician Dr. Nassir. For reasons to be set forth, the Court disagrees.

The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has a severe impairment in his gastrointestinal system, but that this impairment has never met or equaled a Listing, and has never deprived him for any twelve-month period of the RFC for light work activity. The ALJ provided restrictions which would limit Plaintiff to occasional stooping, kneeling, crouching or crawling, and precluded him from climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds. (AR 25.)

Plaintiff received a one-time examination from Dr. Nassir on April 29, 2009, which resulted in Dr. Nassir completing a "Multiple Impairment Questionnaire" (AR 473-480), and also providing a summary and diagnostic report based on that same examination. (AR 485-487.) Dr. Nassir also agreed that Plaintiff can perform lifting and carrying exertional activities which are essentially consistent with light work (see AR at 476), but nevertheless determined that his multiple problems prevent him from performing required daily work activities. (AR 47.)

A brief summary of Plaintiff's medical history, particularly in respect to his gastrointestinal problems, is helpful to this discussion. As early as April 2004, Plaintiff was found to have evidence of diverticulitis and related colon problems. These issues were acknowledged ...


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