Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Baskin v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division

March 28, 2018

CLIFFORD BASKIN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION

          L. SCOTT COOLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         The magistrate judge to whom this Social Security appeal was previously assigned has entered a Report & Recommendation recommending reversal of the Administrative Law Judge's finding that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act under Listing 12.05C (mental retardation) and remand with direction to award and calculate benefits and other relief. (Doc. 12.) Neither party filed objections to the Report & Recommendation within the time allotted by the magistrate judge. This case was then reassigned to the undersigned.

         After initial review, the undersigned stated that this Court was not inclined to adopt and accept the magistrate judge's Report & Recommendation and requested the parties' respective positions on the matter through additional briefing. The plaintiff then filed a brief in support of the magistrate judge's Report & Recommendation (doc. 15), and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration filed a brief in opposition (doc. 14).

         After now having thoroughly reviewed the entire administrative record, and having the benefit of the parties' original and supplemental briefs, this Court finds that the magistrate judge's Report & Recommendation is not due to be adopted and accepted. Rather, for the following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration is due to be affirmed.

         II. Background

         The plaintiff, Clifford Baskin, appeals from the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying his applications for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), a period of disability, and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). Mr. Baskin timely pursued and exhausted his administrative remedies and the decision of the Commissioner is ripe for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). More specifically, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) initially denied Mr. Baskin's applications in a decision issued on April 26, 2012. (Tr. at 159-75.) However, the Appeals Council remanded the case to the ALJ on July 24, 2013, to develop the record further. (Tr. at 176-80.) The ALJ then held a supplemental hearing and issued a second denial decision on May 15, 2014. (Tr. at 79-98, 104.) The Appeals Council denied review on November 25, 2015, which deems the ALJ's decision as the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. at 1.)

         Mr. Baskin was 42 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision, and he attended school through the twelfth grade but did not graduate, instead obtaining a certificate of attendance. (Tr. at 294, 368.) His past work experiences include employment as a hand bander, forklift operator, construction worker, machine operator, and grocery bagger. (Tr. at 96, 368-70, 400-07.) Mr. Baskin claims that he became disabled on May 1, 2010, due to mental retardation, diabetes, hypertension, and carpal tunnel syndrome. (Tr. at 294, 366-72, 377-85, 431-32.)

         The Social Security Administration has established a five-step sequential evaluation process for determining whether an individual is disabled and thus eligible for DIB or SSI. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920; see also Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th Cir. 2001). The evaluator will follow the steps in order until making a finding of either disabled or not disabled; if no finding is made, the analysis will proceed to the next step. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). The first step requires the evaluator to determine whether the plaintiff is engaged in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”). See Id. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i). If the plaintiff is not engaged in SGA, the evaluator moves on to the next step.

         The second step requires the evaluator to consider the combined severity of the plaintiff's medically determinable physical and mental impairments. See Id. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). An individual impairment or combination of impairments that is not classified as “severe” and does not satisfy the durational requirements set forth in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1509 and 416.909 will result in a finding of not disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). The decision depends on the medical evidence contained in the record. See Hart v. Finch, 440 F.2d 1340, 1341 (5th Cir. 1971) (concluding that “substantial medical evidence in the record” adequately supported the finding that plaintiff was not disabled).

         Similarly, the third step requires the evaluator to consider whether the plaintiff's impairment or combination of impairments meets or is medically equal to the criteria of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii). If the criteria of a listed impairment and the durational requirements set forth in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1509 and 416.909 are satisfied, the evaluator will make a finding of disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii).

         If the plaintiff's impairment or combination of impairments does not meet or medically equal a listed impairment, the evaluator must determine the plaintiff's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) before proceeding to the fourth step. See Id. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). The fourth step requires the evaluator to determine whether the plaintiff has the RFC to perform the requirements of his past relevant work. See Id. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv). If the plaintiff's impairment or combination of impairments does not prevent him from performing his past relevant work, the evaluator will make a finding of not disabled. See id.

         The fifth and final step requires the evaluator to consider the plaintiff's RFC, age, education, and work experience in order to determine whether the plaintiff can make an adjustment to other work. See Id. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 416.920(a)(4)(v). If the plaintiff can perform other work, the evaluator will find him not disabled. Id.; see also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g), 416.920(g). If the plaintiff cannot perform other work, the evaluator will find him disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 404.1520(g), 416.920(a)(4)(v), 416.920(g).

         Applying the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found that Mr. Baskin was insured through December 31, 2013. (Tr. at 85.) He further determined that Mr. Baskin has not engaged in SGA since the alleged onset of his disability. (Id.) According to the ALJ, Plaintiff's diabetes with neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, hernia, obesity, and borderline intellectual functioning are considered “severe” based on the requirements set forth in the regulations. (Tr. at 85.) However, he found that these impairments neither meet nor medically equal any of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. at 86.) Further, he determined that Mr. Baskin has the following RFC: he can perform the exertional and nonexertional requirements of sedentary work with these additional limitations: he can sit, stand, and walk for six out of eight hours but should have a sit/stand option; he can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; he can occasionally push/pull with the upper right extremity; he can occasionally climb ramps/stairs, balance, kneel, crouch, crawl, and stoop; he can frequently reach, handle, finger, and feel with the upper right extremity; he cannot work at unprotected heights or walk on uneven terrain; he should avoid work environments with poor ventilation, extremes of heat and cold, and excessive noise or vibration; he can understand, remember and carry out short and simple instructions; perform simple, routine, repetitive tasks; and deal with occasional, gradual changes in the workplace; yet, he cannot read instructions, write reports, or perform math calculations. (Tr. at 89-96).

         According to the ALJ at step four, Mr. Baskin is unable to perform any of his past relevant work, he is a “younger individual age 18-44, ” he has a “limited education, ” and he is able to communicate in English, as those terms are defined by the regulations. (Tr. at 96-97.) The ALJ then enlisted a Vocational Expert (“VE”) to find at step five that there are a significant number of jobs in the national economy that Mr. Baskin is capable of performing, such as machine tender, folder, and machine operator. (Tr. at 97-98.) The ALJ concluded his findings by stating that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.