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Prim v. Berryhill

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

February 12, 2019

MEGAN L. PRIM, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          BRADLEY MURRAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Megan L. Prim brings this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for supplemental security income benefits. 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. (Docs. 22 & 23 (“In accordance with 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, Plaintiff's brief, the Commissioner's brief, and the parties' arguments at the February 5, 2018 hearing before the undersigned, the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision denying benefits should be affirmed.[1]

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed an application for supplemental security income benefits on September 1, 2015, alleging disability beginning on August 28, 2015. (Compare Tr. 21 with Tr. 156-161.) Prim's claim was initially denied on December 10, 2015 (Tr. 75 & 94-98) and, following Plaintiff's December 16, 2015 request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 100-02), a hearing was conducted before an ALJ on April 19, 2017 (Tr.33-73). On August 21, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding that the claimant was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to supplemental security income benefits. (Tr. 10-21.) More specifically, the ALJ determined at the fifth step of the five-step sequential evaluation process that Prim retains the residual functional capacity to perform those light jobs identified by the vocational expert (“VE”) during the administrative hearing (compare Id. at 15-21 with Tr. 67-69). On September 7, 2017, the Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's unfavorable decision to the Appeals Council (see Tr. 154); the Appeals Council denied Prim's request for review on May 3, 2018 (Tr. 1-3). Thus, the hearing decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security.

         Plaintiff alleges disability due to diabetes mellitus with neuropathy, hypertension, congestive heart failure, bilateral wrist pain, retinopathy, cataracts and vision issue, depression, and anxiety. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made the following relevant findings:

2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus with neuropathy, hypertension, congestive heart failure, bilateral wrist pain, retinopathy, cataracts and vision issues, depression, and anxiety (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
. . .
3. 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 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
. . .
4. 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 416.967(b) except she can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She can handle and finger frequently with her hands, bilaterally. She can frequently climb ramps and stairs and occasionally climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can frequently balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. With regard to vision, she would have difficulty with fine print and fine discrimination, but she can read ordinary newspaper or book size print, travel independently, work with large objects, and avoid common hazards. She can never work at unprotected heights and [around] moving mechanical parts. She can operate a motor vehicle, but she would need outside mirrors for commercial driving and she should avoid commercial driving at night. She is limited to performing simple, routine tasks, and simple work-related decisions. She can occasionally interact with supervisors and corrective action should be clear and objective. She can occasionally interact with coworkers and she would function best with a few familiar coworkers. She can occasionally interact with the public. She can deal with occasional changes in a work setting.
. . .
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
. . .
6. The claimant was born on September 1, 1991 and was 23 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was ...

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