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Williams v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

August 26, 2014

MELISSA A. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER

SONJA F. BIVINS, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Melissa A. Williams (hereinafter "Plaintiff") brings this action seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq. On May 1, 2014, the parties consented to have the undersigned conduct any and all proceedings in this case. (Doc. 17). Thus, the action was referred to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings and order the entry of judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. Upon careful consideration of the administrative record and the memoranda of the parties, it is hereby ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED.

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff protectively filed an application for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income on June 21, 2010. (Doc. 13 at 1; Tr. 154-61). Plaintiff alleges that she has been disabled since May 1, 2006 on account of her back pain. (Tr. 45, 158). Plaintiff's applications were denied and upon timely request, she was granted an administrative hearing before Administrative Law Katie H. Pierce (hereinafter "ALJ") on January 4, 2012. Plaintiff, her attorney and a vocational expert (hereinafter "VE") attended the hearing. ( Id., at 39). On March 19, 2012, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding that Plaintiff is not disabled. ( Id., at 21-32). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on June 13, 2013. ( Id., at 1-3). Thus, the ALJ's decision dated March 19, 2012 became the final decision of the Commissioner. The parties waived oral argument and agree that this case is now ripe for judicial review and is properly before this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (Docs. 16, 18).

II. Issue on Appeal

Whether the ALJ erred in concluding that Plaintiff can return to her past relevant work, without making specific findings regarding the physical and mental demands of the work, as required by SSR 82-62.

III. Factual Background

Plaintiff was born on April 11, 1967, and was 44 years of age at the time of her administrative hearing on January 4, 2012. (Tr. 43). Plaintiff testified at the hearing that she completed 13 years of school and last worked as an operator at International Paper in 2006. (Id.). According to Plaintiff, prior to that job, she worked as a cashier at Andrews Hardware store checking out customers, stocking shelves with light bulbs, making orders and assisting customers. ( Id., at 44).

Plaintiff testified that her main problem is pressure in her back that radiates down her legs, and causes a "nulling pain in her left leg". ( Id., at 45-46). Additionally, Plaintiff testified that she suffers from headaches every day and that she has not found anything that relieves the headaches. ( Id., at 46).

On Plaintiff's function report, she reported that her daily activities include taking care of her personal needs, including grooming, with assistance from her daughter, watching television, washing dishes, walking to the mailbox, sitting and talking with family, and sitting on the back porch watching her grandson play. ( Id., at 202, 205). Plaintiff also reported that she prepares frozen dinners, heats her lunch, and makes sandwiches, and that she is able to do some shopping. With regard to social activities, Plaintiff reported that she goes to church weekly and sings in the choir one Sunday a month, and that she sits with her grandchildren and talks on the phone. ( Id., at 47, 206). Plaintiff further reported that she is able to lift "maybe 10 lbs" and walk 15-20 minutes at a time. ( Id., at 207).

In addition to the foregoing facts, the ALJ discussed the medical evidence and made the following relevant findings:

The claimant has the following severe impairments: lumbar spondylosis; lumbar radiculitis; and migraine headaches (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).[1]
The claimant also suffers from obesity. However, the medical evidence of record does not support a finding that this impairment causes more than a minimal limitation in the claimant's ability to perform basic work activities. Therefore, it is a non-severe impairment. Nevertheless, the undersigned considered ...

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