The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay
Acting pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), Jeffrey Miller ("Miller" or "the claimant") appeals from an April 23, 2007 final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("the Commissioner") denying his application for supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits under Title XIV of the Social Security Act ("the Act"). Cross-motions for summary judgment are pending. The claimant's Motion (Doc. 13) will be denied, and the Commissioner's Motion (Doc. 15) will be granted.
On October 27, 2004, Miller filed a claim for SSI benefits, alleging that he became disabled on October 1, 2004 due to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (Tr. 52). This claim was denied initially on January 10, 2005. (Tr. 32). Miller requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") which was scheduled to take place on October 2, 2006. Miller, for good cause, did not appear. The hearing was rescheduled, and took place on February 7, 2007. (Tr. 24, 22). Miller, who was represented by counsel, and a vocational expert testified.
In a decision dated April 23, 2007, the ALJ found that the claimant was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. (Tr. 10-19). The Appeals Council denied Miller's request for review on August 30, 2007, (Tr. 3-5), making the decision of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. This timely appeal followed.
The ALJ found that Miller was not disabled by applying the sequential five step analysis*fn1 articulated at 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a) and 416.9020(a), resolving the matter at Step Five. At the time of the hearing, Miller was a twenty-four year old single man with a GED certificate obtained in prison. (Tr. 82). In his testimony, Miller alleged that he sometimes experienced difficulty getting along with family and friends, and that he had a short temper. He tended to avoid people because of unstable moods. He also testified that he had problems with blurred vision, and described back pain which he treated by lying flat, standing for fifteen to twenty minutes per hour, or sleeping on a board. (Tr. 14, 15). Miller alleged that he could not read well, and had difficulty making change. He had taken Adderal and Ritalin, but stopped because the drugs were too expensive. He did not have a treating physician at the time of the hearing, and did not report for a consultative examination, thus preventing the state agency reviewing psychologist from completing a Psychiatric Review and Technique form. (Tr. 15). The claimant did not have a relevant work history, but had been a dishwasher for short periods of time, and had helped in his grandfather's scrap yard. (Tr. 18).
The ALJ commented that Miller's medical record was "scant." ( Tr. 12). He was able to conclude, however, that Miller suffered from a number of severe impairments, including a history of adjustment disorder with depressed mood, a history of ADHD, and a history of a learning disorder affecting math and reading. None of these impairments, alone or in combination, was found to constitute a listed impairment. (Id.).
The ALJ found that although Miller's medically determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to produce the symptoms which the claimant described, his statements regarding the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of these impairments were not entirely credible. (Tr. 15). He also found that Miller possessed the residual functional capacity to perform work with no physical restrictions, as long as he was not required to perform reading or math related tasks. (Tr. 13). The ALJ arrived at this assessment based in part on Miller's own review of his daily activities. These included sweeping, cooking, mowing the lawn, watching television, listening to the radio, handling bills, working on a moped, and making decisions on his own. Although the claimant cited problems with concentration, he was able to change tires on and oil in family cars. He did not have problems in public places, and did not need assistance attending to his personal needs. (Tr. 14).
At Step Five of his analysis, the ALJ relied on the conclusions of the vocational expert. At the hearing, the ALJ questioned the vocational expert regarding jobs available for someone of Miller's age with similar education, work experience, and the stated residual functional capacity.
The expert testified that such an individual would be able to perform representative jobs including janitor/cleaner, hand packer, and bench assembler, each of which existed in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 19). Based on this testimony, the ALJ concluded that the claimant was not disabled within the meaning of the Act.( Id.)
The Act limits judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision regarding benefits to whether the factual findings are supported by substantial evidence, Brown v. Brown , 845 F.2d 1211, 1213 (3d Cir. 1988), and whether the correct law was applied. Coria v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 245, 247 (3d Cir. 1984). A reviewing court may not undertake de novo review of the Commissioner's decision and may not reweigh the evidence of record. Monsour Med. Ctr. v. Heckler, 806 F.2d 1185, 1190 (3d Cir.1986). In other words, even if the reviewing court would ...