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Sanic v. Berryhill

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

January 23, 2019

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.



         On September 27, 2017, Plaintiff, Rolando Perez Sanic, filed a complaint (Doc. 1) seeking judicial review of an adverse final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“the Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). On April 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed a brief in support (Doc. 9). On April 25, 2018, the Commissioner filed a Memorandum in Support (Doc. 10). Therefore, this matter is ripe for review. For the reasons stated below, the final decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 21, 2014, plaintiff filed application for benefits under Title II for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act alleging February 17, 2014, as his onset of disability. On February 18, 2016, the administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Bruce W. MacKenzie, conducted a video hearing. The ALJ presided in Birmingham and the plaintiff appeared in Gadsden, Alabama. (Tr. 23). Plaintiff, his attorney, an interpreter, and vocational expert (“VE”) were present at the hearing. (Id.). On August 31, 2016, the ALJ issued his decision. In doing so, the ALJ engaged in the five-step sequential evaluation process promulgated by the Commissioner to determine whether an individual is disabled. (Id. at 23-38). The ALJ made the following findings:

1. Claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2018, but not thereafter. (Id. at 25).
2. Claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 17, 2014, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.). (Id.).
3. The claimant has the severe impairments of status post anterior cervical and fusion with post laminectomy syndrome; lumbar degenerative disc disease with LS disc bulge with stenosis; left shoulder AC arthritis and tendinosis; migraine headaches; and, vertigo (20 CFR 404.1520(c)). (Id.).
4. 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 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526). (Id. at 32).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he would require a sit/stand option with the retained ability to stay on or at a workstation in no less than 30 minute increments each without significant reduction of remaining on task. He is able to ambulate short distances up to 100 yards per instance on flat hard surfaces. He is able to frequently use left hand controls and his left hand is non-dominant. He is able to frequently reach overhead with the left non-dominant hand; can frequently climb ramps and stairs, but never climb ladders or scaffolds; and can occasionally stoop, crouch, kneel, and crawl. He would be restricted from performing quick, rapid, or repetitive movements of the head to the left, right, up, or down, but can perform in occupations where head and neck movements are slow and self-paced. He should never be exposed to unprotected heights or operate commercial motor vehicles; would be limited to routine and repetitive tasks and simple work-related decisions; and in addition to normal workday breaks, he would be off task five percent of an eight hour workday (non-consecutive minutes). (Id. at 32-33).
6. The claimant is unable to perform any of the claimant's past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565). (Id. at 36).
7. The claimant was born on June 15, 1976 and was 37 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563). (Id.).
8. The claimant may not be able to communicate in English, and will be considered in the same way as an individual who is illiterate in English (20 CFR 404.1564). (Id.).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is "not disabled," whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2). (Id.).
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)). (Id.).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from February 17, 2014, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g)). (Id. at 37).

         Plaintiff requested an appeal to the Appeals Council, which denied his request for review on July 26, 2017. (Tr. 1). At that point, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. Henry v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 802 F.3d 1264, 1267 (11th Cir. 2015). Plaintiff then filed this action on September 27, 2017. (Doc. 1).


         The Social Security Act authorizes payment of disability insurance benefits and supplemental social security income to persons with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423, 1381 (2012). The law defines disability as the “inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a).[1]

         A. ...

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