The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo
(Complaint Filed 3/29/11)
The above-captioned action is one seeking review of a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff Mark Eugene Montgomery's claim for social security disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits. For the reasons set forth below we will affirm the decision of the Commissioner.
On March 5, 2008, Montgomery filed protectively*fn1 an application for disability insurance benefits and an application for supplemental security income benefits. Tr. 11, 73-74, 97-104, 107 and 112.*fn2 The applications were initially denied by the Bureau of Disability Determination*fn3 on August 7, 2008. Tr. 11 and 75-84. On October 8, 2008, Montgomery requested a hearing before an administrative law judge. Tr. 87-88. After about 18 months had passed, a hearing was held on April 7, 2010. Tr. 48-70. On April 15, 2010, the administrative law judge issued a decision denying Montgomery's applications. Tr. 11-25. On June 7, 2010, Montgomery filed a request for review with the Appeals Council and on February 3, 2011, the Appeals Council concluded that there was no basis upon which to grant Montgomery's request. Tr. 1-5. Thus, the administrative law judge's decision stood as the final decision of the Commissioner.
Montgomery then filed a complaint in this court on March 29, 2011. Supporting and opposing briefs were submitted and the appeal*fn4 became ripe for disposition on September 9, 2011, when Montgomery elected not to file a reply brief.
Disability insurance benefits are paid to an individual if that individual is disabled and "insured," that is, the individual has worked long enough and paid social security taxes. The last date that a claimant meets the requirements of being insured is commonly referred to as the "date last insured." It is undisputed that Montgomery met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2001. Tr. 11, 13, 112 and 119. In order to establish entitlement to disability insurance benefits Montgomery was required to establish that he suffered from a disability on or before that date. 42 U.S.C. § 423(a)(1)(A), (c)(1)(B); 20 C.F.R. §404.131(a)(2008); see Matullo v. Bowen, 926 F.2d 240, 244 (3d Cir. 1990).
A review of the record in this case reveals that there is no medical evidence supporting Montgomery's claim that he was disabled prior to the date last insured. No treating or examining physician has opined that Montgomery had functional limitations that would have prevented him from engaging in gainful employment on or prior to September 30, 2001, the date last insured. In fact Montgomery filed a statement of material facts which does not mention any medical evidence prior to January 21, 2008. Doc. 11, Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts. Consequently, we will affirm the administrative law judge's decision with respect to Montgomery's claim for disability insurance benefits without any further discussion.
Supplemental security income is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not social security taxes). It is designed to help aged, blind or other disabled individuals who have little or no income. Insured status is irrelevant in determining a claimant's eligibility for supplemental security income benefits.
Montgomery who was born in the United States on July 12, 1962,*fn5 has a seventh grade education and can read, write, speak and understand the English language and perform basic mathematical functions. Tr. 55, 101, 133 and 158.*fn6 During his elementary and secondary schooling, Montgomery attended regular education classes. Tr. 139.
Montgomery has past relevant work experience*fn7 as a
laborer at a tree farm and various manufacturing companies. Tr. 115,
135 and 148. The work was described by a vocational expert as
unskilled, medium work as generally performed in the economy and as
unskilled, heavy work as actually performed by Montgomery.*fn8
Records of the Social Security Administration reveal that Montgomery had reported earnings in 1979 , 1981, 1983 through 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2003. Tr. 113. Montgomery's total earnings during those years were $147,093.14. Id. Montgomery's earnings in 1998 were $660.00, in 2000 $299.25 and in 2003 $2988.96. Id. Montgomery has not worked since September 30, 2003. Tr. 134.
Montgomery in his application for supplemental security income
benefits alleges that he became disabled on March 5, 2008,*fn9
because of Hepatitis C, hearing loss, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, degenerative disc disease, diverticulitis, deep
vein thrombosis, liver disease, polycystic kidney disease, high blood
pressure, amputated fingers and anxiety. Tr. 55-59, 71, 75 and 134;
Doc. 12, Plaintiff's Brief, p. 2. Montgomery contends that he cannot
stand for long periods of time because of back pain and numbness ...