United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
RODNEY J. WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BRADLEY MURRAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Rodney J. Washington 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”), and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), based on
disability. 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. 20
(“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.”)). See also Doc. 22. Upon
consideration of the administrative record, Washington's
brief, the Commissioner's brief, all other documents of
record, and oral argument, it is determined that the
Commissioner's decision denying benefits should be
August 29, 2013, Washington applied for a Period of
Disability and DIB, under Title II of the Social Security
Act, and for SSI, based on disability, under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381-1383d, alleging disability beginning on
December 31, 2012. (Tr. 299-308). After his application was
denied at the initial level of administrative review on
December 17, 2013, Washington requested a hearing by an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (Tr. 170-77). After an
initial hearing was held on May 12, 2015, the ALJ issued an
adverse decision on June 5, 2015, which was reversed and
remanded by the Appeals Council on October 20, 2016. (Tr.
43-44). A second hearing was held on February 24, 2017, which
also resulted in the ALJ issuing an unfavorable decision
finding that Washington was not under a disability from the
date the application was filed through the date of the
decision, March 7, 2017. (Tr. 18-80). Washington appealed the
ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, which denied his
request for review on July 31, 2017. (Tr. 1-5).
exhausting his administrative remedies, Washington 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 8, 2017. (Docs. 11, 12). On January 3, 2018,
Washington filed a brief in support of his claim. (Doc. 13).
The Commissioner filed her brief on March 20, 2018. (Doc.
17). Oral argument was held before the undersigned Magistrate
Judge on May 9, 2018. (Doc. 21). The case is now ripe for
CLAIMS ON APPEAL
presents the following claims in this appeal:
1. Whether the ALJ committed reversible error in violation of
Social Security Rulings 96-8p and 96-6p by failing to assess
any non-exertional limitations when formulating his Residual
Functional Capacity (RFC) despite finding that he had the
severe impairment of mild intellectual disability;
2. Whether the ALJ committed reversible error in applying
Rule 201.24 of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines despite
finding that he had non-exertional limitations from his
severe impairment of mild intellectual disability; and
3. Whether the ALJ erred in failing to find that his mental
impairment met the requirements of Listing 12.05(b).
(Doc. 13 at p. 2).
was born on November 11, 1977, making him 36 years old at the
time he filed his claim for benefits. (Tr. 299). Washington
alleged disability due to slow learning, bad knees, and a
right arm problem. (Tr. 376). He left high school after
10thgrade in 1996, after having attended special
education classes when he was in school. (Tr. 377). When he
was 14, he was assessed with a full-scale IQ score of 47.
(Tr. 46). He has not completed any type of specialized job
training, trade, or vocational school. (Id.)
According to Washington, he cannot read or write at a
functional level. (Tr. 46). Since high school, he has worked
at various times doing lawn service, disposing of tires, and
doing various construction-type work, such as mixing mud for
a brick layer. (Id.).
generally handles his own personal care. (Tr. 392-93, 525).
During the relevant period here, he either lived with his
girlfriend and two children or alone. (Id.). His
girlfriend and his sisters help him take care of his
children. (Tr. 392). He is able to prepare simple meals, like
sandwiches, canned foods, eggs, and Hot Pockets, and does so
about twice a week. (Tr. 70, 393, 525). He is able to pick up
trash, rake, and cut the grass with support, but according to
him and his girlfriend, he needs help to stay on task.
(Id.). He does not drive, but can meet basic
transportation needs. (Tr. 394, 525). He goes outside at his
home on a daily basis. (Id.). He does not pay bills,
handle a savings account, or use a checkbook or money orders
because he can't count, read, or understand well enough
to do these things, but he can manage small amounts of money.
(Tr. 394, 525). He spends his time watching television,
walking, looking at comic books, and visiting his
mother's home and sister's home which are next to his
home. (Tr. 395). He is able to wash his own clothes. (Tr.
525). He alleges that his condition affects his talking,
memory, completing tasks, concentration, understanding, and
following instructions, that he gets upset when he is told to
do things that he can't seem to understand, and that he
has trouble following written instructions because he can
barely read, but can follow spoken instructions when spoken
slowly and in simple words. (Tr. 396). He gets along with
authority figures, but does not handle stress or changes in
routine well. (Tr. 397).
testified at the first hearing in May of 2015 that he cannot
do his prior jobs because of problems with his right hand and
knee. (Tr. 71-74). At the second hearing in February of 2017,
he continued to complain of problems with his right hand and
testified as to his reading and math difficulties, as well as
some problems interacting adequately with other people. (Tr.
46-49). After conducting the hearing in February of 2017, the
ALJ again made a determination that Washington had not been
under a disability during the relevant time period, and thus,
was not entitled to benefits. (Tr. 36-65).