United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BRADLEY MURRAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
David Allen Mahan, Jr., brings this action, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial
review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security ("the Commissioner") denying his claim for
Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title
II of the Social Security Act ("the Act") and for
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"), based on
disability, under Title XVI of the Act. The parties have
consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by the Magistrate
Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), for all
proceedings in this Court. (Doc. 21 ("In accordance with
the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, the
parties in this case consent to have a United States
Magistrate Judge conduct any and all proceedings in this
case, ... order the entry of a final judgment, and conduct
all post-judgment proceedings.")). Upon consideration of
the administrative record, Mahan's brief, the
Commissioner's brief, and oral argument presented at the
August 15, 2017 hearing before the undersigned Magistrate
Judge, it is determined that the Commissioner's decision
denying benefits should be affirmed.
applied for DIB, under Title II of the Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423-425, and for SSI, based on disability, under
Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383d, on
April 24, 2013, alleging disability beginning on March 15,
2013. (Tr. 142-51). His application was denied at the initial
level of administrative review on September 17, 2013. (Tr.
98). On November 15, 2013, Mahan requested a hearing by an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (Tr. 99-100). After a hearing
was held on September 24, 2014, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision finding that Mahan was not under a disability from
the date the application was filed through the date of the
decision, February 13, 2015. (Tr. 15-27). Mahan appealed the
ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, and, on July 27,
2016, the Appeals Council denied his request for review of
the ALJ's decision, thereby making the ALJ's decision
the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3).
exhausting his administrative remedies, Mahan sought judicial
review in this Court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g) and 1383(c). (Doc. 1). The Commissioner filed an
answer and the social security transcript on December 15,
2016. (Docs. 10, 12). Both parties filed briefs setting forth
their respective positions. (Docs. 14, 18). Oral argument was
held before the undersigned Magistrate Judge on August 15,
2017. The case is now ripe for decision.
CLAIMS ON APPEAL
alleges that the ALJ's decision to deny him benefits is
in error for the following reasons:
1. The ALJ erroneously failed to assess all of Mahan's
mental impairments when formulating his residual functional
capacity (RFC); and
2. The ALJ erroneously failed to fulfill the duty to develop
the record by not ordering an updated consultative
(Doc. 14 at pp. 1-2).
was born on August 26, 1978, and was 34 years old at the time
he filed his claim for benefits. (Tr. 142). He alleged
disability due to a learning disability (not being able to
read), a left shoulder injury, and depression. (Tr. 43-45,
177, 203). He graduated from high school, but was in special
education classes. (Tr. 38, 178). He can read very little,
but can do simple math and knows how to use a calculator.
(Tr. 39-40). He is not able to pay bills, count change,
handle a savings account, or use a checkbook because he
"can't read." (Tr. 39-40, 186). He participated
in job training in maintenance through Job Corps in 2000.
(Tr. 39, 178). He has worked as a custodian, a crane company
helper, a manual laborer, a groundskeeper/maintenance man,
and a satellite installer. (Tr. 40-41, 178). Mahan last
worked on March 15, 2013. (Tr. 177). He testified that he has
had job opportunities, but has not been able to pass the
tests required for the jobs. (Tr. 42).
time of the hearing before the ALJ on September 24, 2014,
Mahan lived with his wife and thirteen month old child. (Tr.
38). During the relevant time period, he engaged in normal
life activities; such as, handling his personal care, taking
care of his son while his wife was at work, feeding and
bathing the family dogs, helping clean the house by sweeping
and mopping, mowing the yard with a riding lawn mower, making
minor repairs to the house, running errands, grocery
shopping, and running the sound equipment at church on
Sunday. (Tr. 45-49, 183-86). He enjoys fishing, taking care
of his dogs, watching television, and handy man activities
that he can perform with his limitation of not being able to
lift over 30 pounds. (Tr. 187).
conducting a hearing, the ALJ made a determination that Mahan
had not been under a disability during the relevant time
period, and thus, was not entitled to benefits. (Tr. 16-41).
considering all of the evidence, the ALJ made the following
findings that are relevant to the issues presented in her
February 13, 2015 decision:
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
history of left shoulder injury, mild anxiety and depression,
and reading disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1(20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
* * *
The evidence does not demonstrate that the claimant has valid
IQ scores of 70 or below or mental impairments that cause
marked restriction of [his] activities of daily living,
marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning, marked
difficulties maintaining concentration, persistence or pace,
or repeated episodes of decompensation of extended duration,
as required by Sections 12.02, 12.04 and 12.05 of the
Listings (Exhibit 7F).
The severity of the claimant's mental impairments,
considered singly and in combination, do not meet or
medically equal the criteria of Medical Listings 12.04 and
12.06. In making this finding, the undersigned has considered
whether the "paragraph B" criteria are satisfied.
To satisfy the "paragraph B" criteria, the mental
impairments must result in at least two of the following:
marked restriction of activities of daily living; marked
difficulties in maintaining social functioning; marked
difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or
pace; or repeated episodes of decompensation, each of
extended duration. A marked limitation means more than
moderate but less than extreme. Repeated episodes of
decompensation, each of extended duration, means three
episodes within 1 year, or an average of once every 4 months,
each lasting for at least 2 weeks.
In activities of daily living, the claimant has none
restriction. The claimant is capable of initiating and
participating in activities such as cleaning, shopping, and
maintaining a residence independent of supervision or
direction. While the claimant's impairment may interfere
with complex activities, the performance of a simple routine
is appropriate, effective and sustainable (Exhibits 4F, 5F,
In social functioning, the claimant has mild difficulties.
The claimant is able to initiate social contacts, communicate
clearly, participate in group activities and demonstrate
cooperative behaviors. Medical evaluations, discussed below,
contain indication of at least some difficulty. Nonetheless,
the evidence does not ...