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Dennis Kimmel v. Michael J. Astrue

March 1, 2012

DENNIS KIMMEL, 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 Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly developed the record;

2. Whether the ALJ properly assessed Plaintiff's credibility;

3. Whether the ALJ properly considered the evidence at Step 5. (JS at 4.)

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 DID NOT ERR IN FAILING TO FURTHER DEVELOP THE MEDICAL RECORD

At Step Two of the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has the severe impairment of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. (AR 11.) The ALJ assessed that Plaintiff's residual functional capacity ("RFC") does not include any limitations due to vision.

On May 21, 2006, Plaintiff reported that he had visual disturbances described as a progressive sensitivity to bright light with waxing and waning symptoms. (AR 246.) He was advised to follow up with the ophthalmology department (AR 265), and a week later, reported no vision problems or blurred vision. (AR 262-263.) He was monitored for development of cataracts. (AR 256-259.)

In November 2007, when Plaintiff sought refills for his diabetes medication because he had run out of that medication three months previously, he complained that he had blurry vision which had been worsening in the past three months. (AR 14, 246, 255.)

Withing two months of that complaint, Plaintiff had cataract surgery in one eye. After a week, he was doing well. (AR 250, 271, 273.) In March 2008 he had cataract surgery on his other eye. (AR 243, 268-269, 272.) On April 1, 2008, he reported that he was doing well and seemed better. (AR 240.) His visual acuity soon improved to 20/50-3 in his right eye and 20/40 in his left eye. (AR 14, 240.) Although a week later, on April 8, 2008, he reported that vision in his right eye was still blurry, and by July 2008, reported decreased vision in both eyes (AR 238-239), the ALJ determined that by ...


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