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Coleman v. Saul

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

September 20, 2019

DANITA COLEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, [1]Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          BRADLEY MURRAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Danita Coleman 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 her claim for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), based on disability. (Doc. 1). 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. 17 (“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 Doc. 19. Upon consideration of the administrative record, Coleman’s brief, and the Commissioner’s brief, [2] it is determined that the Commissioner’s decision denying benefits should be affirmed.[3]

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Coleman applied for SSI, based on disability, under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383d, on May 4, 2015. (Tr. 176). Her application was denied at the initial level of administrative review on August 4, 2015. (Tr. 80-84). On August 25, 2015, Coleman requested a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (Tr. 85). After a hearing was held on June 28, 2017, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding that Coleman was not under a disability from the date the application was filed through the date of the decision, October 19, 2017. (Tr. 12-29). Coleman appealed the ALJ’s decision to the Appeals Council, which denied her request for review of the ALJ’s decision on June 29, 2018. (Tr. 1-4). After exhausting her administrative remedies, Coleman 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 October 18, 2018. (Docs. 11, 12). Both parties have filed briefs setting forth their respective positions. (Docs. 14, 15). The case is now ripe for decision.

         II. CLAIMS ON APPEAL

         Coleman alleges that the ALJ’s decision to deny her benefits is in error for the following reasons:

1. The ALJ erred in relying on the opinions of two consultative examiners whose examinations were remote in time; and
2. The ALJ erred by not finding “Major Depressive Disorder” to be a severe impairment.
(Doc. 14 at p. 1).

         III. BACKGROUND FACTS

         Coleman was born on May 2, 1966 and was 49 years old at the time she filed her claim for benefits. (Tr. 196). Coleman initially alleged disability due to psychosis schizophrenia, arthritis, and depression, with an onset date of November 1, 2014. (Tr. 196, 205). Coleman graduated from high school in 1984 and did not attend special education classes. (Tr. 37, 207). The only employment she has had was as a cashier in a convenience store in 1995-96. (Tr. 37, 191). At the hearing before the ALJ, Coleman also testified that she has diabetes, hypertension, and a cyst in her left wrist. (Tr. 52-53). Coleman claims that she is unable to work due to both her physical and mental conditions.

         IV. ALJ’S DECISION

         After conducting a hearing on this matter, the ALJ made a determination that Coleman had not been under a disability during the relevant time period, and thus, was not entitled to benefits. (Tr. 28). The ALJ findings set forth in her October 24, 2017 decision that are relevant to the claims on appeal are set forth below.

         V. ...


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