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Pritchett v. Saul

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

September 20, 2019

CALVIN PRITCHETT, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          P. BRADLEY MURRAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff 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 denying his claims for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income. 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, and the Commissioner’s brief, [1] it is determined that the Commissioner’s decision denying benefits should be affirmed.[2]

         I. Procedural Background

         On May 2, 2016, Plaintiff “protectively” filed applications for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income, alleging disability beginning on May 1, 2011. (Compare Tr. 167-174 with Tr. 15). Pritchett’s claims were initially denied on May 27, 2016 (Tr. 97-113) and, following Plaintiff’s June 15 or 21, 2016 request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (see Tr. 105-07), a hearing was conducted before an ALJ on October 12, 2017 (Tr. 28-52). During that hearing, Plaintiff, through counsel, amended his disability onset date to the protective filing date of May 2, 2016 (Tr. 53; compare Id . with Tr. 15 (recognizing that Pritchett amended his alleged onset date to May 2, 2016)). On January 24, 2018, the ALJ issued a decision finding that the claimant was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, or supplemental security income. (Tr. 15-23). More specifically, the ALJ proceeded to the fifth step of the five-step sequential evaluation process and determined that Pritchett retains the residual functional capacity to perform those light jobs identified by the vocational expert (“VE”) during the administrative hearing (compare Id . at 22-23 with Tr. 46, 48-50 & 52). Plaintiff appealed the ALJ’s unfavorable decision to the Appeals Council on February 19, 2018 (see Tr. 164-66); the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request for review on August 14, 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, hypertension, arthritis, obesity, and gout. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made the following relevant findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2016.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 2, 2016, the amended alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
. . .
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus; hypertension; arthritis; obesity; and gout (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
. . .
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).
. . .
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) and 416.967(b) except the claimant can occasionally push and/or pull foot controls with the left lower extremity; frequently reach[] overhead with the left upper extremity; frequent bilateral handling and fingering; occasionally climbing ramps and stairs, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching and crawling; never climbing ladders and scaffolds; never work in an environment of unprotected heights or around hazardous moving mechanical parts; the claimant should not operate a motor vehicle for commercial purposes; should have a sit and/or stand option with an ability to alternate sitting, standing and/or walking in 1-hour increments throughout the workday while remaining on task; and would be off task for no more than 10 percent of the time during an 8hour workday due to bathroom breaks.
. . .
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
. . .
7. The claimant was born on June 23, 1969 and was 4[6] years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not an issue in this case because the claimant’s past relevant work is unskilled (20 CFR 404.1568 and 416.968).
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, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
. . .
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from May 2, 2016, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

(Tr. 17, 18, 19, 21, 22 & 23 (emphasis in original)).

         II. Standard of Review ...


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