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Glanton v. Astrue

February 20, 2009

JAMES E. GLANTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cathy Bissoon United States Magistrate Judge

Magistrate Judge Bissoon*fn1

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. MEMORANDUM

For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 10) will be granted, and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 5) will be denied.

Plaintiff James E. Glanton ("Claimant") has filed this social security appeal, challenging the ALJ's decision dated October 5, 2007. See generally Compl. (Doc. 1); ALJ's Decision, R. at 14-24. Claimant seeks disability insurance benefits ("DIB"), and he must demonstrate disability on or before June 30, 2005. See ALJ's Decision, R. at 14 (holding same based on Claimant's earning records).

The ALJ found that Claimant suffered the severe impairments of complex regional pain syndrome and obesity, but that these conditions did not, as of June 30, 2005, preclude Claimant from performing a limited range of sedentary work. See ALJ's Decision, R. at 16-17.

The vocational expert testified that an individual with Claimant's limitations could perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, and the ALJ found Claimant not disabled at step five of the sequential analysis. See id.

Having carefully reviewed the entire record, the undersigned concludes that the ALJ's decision was neither erroneous nor unsupported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the Court will limit its discussion to the points of error alleged by Claimant.

Nearly all of Claimant's arguments derive from the progressive nature of his complex regional pain syndrome ("CRPS"). See generally Pl.'s Br. (Doc. 6) at 1. This focus is understandable, given Claimant's post-coverage medical evidence that his condition has deteriorated. See, e.g., Rpt. of Dr. Cheryl Bernstein dated Jun. 5, 2007 (R. at 270-71) (Claimant's "restrictions are [so] significant that even simple intermittent tasks using his hands would exacerbate [the] pain and swelling" in "his upper extremities").

A longitudinal review of the medical evidence regarding Claimant's residual functional capacity ("RFC"), before and after his date last insured, is appropriate:

* On November 26, 2002, treating physician Richard Katz found Claimant "permanently . . . unable to work as a construction laborer or in any [other] job position requiring the forceful use of his upper extremities," R. at 207;

* On May 23, 2003, Dr. Katz opined that Claimant was "capable of working in a sedentary job position . . . requir[ing] no more than the occasional lifting of objects weighing up to 10 lbs. using both hands together," no "continuous, forceful, or rapid use of [his] hands," no crawling, use of "vibrating tools," exposure of his "upper extremities to substantially cool conditions for a substantial . . . time," and no driving for more than one hour at a time, R. at 245;

* On July 26, 2004, Dr. Katz "agreed" that Claimant should perform "some housework and gardening," assuming "the activities [did] not require the forceful use of his upper extremities"; the physician "indicated that there is some evidence that reasonable use of an upper extremity affected by a CRP[S] may be of benefit in either diminishing the intensity of the disorder or at least keeping it from progressing," R. at 177-78;

* On December 1, 2004, SSA consultative examiner Dr. Shelana Gibbs-McElvy opined that Claimant could engage in less than the full range of sedentary work, and she imposed limitations less restrictive than Dr. Katz's May 23, 2003 RFC, compare R. at 210 with ALJ's Decision, R. at ...


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