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Mickey Jenkins v. Michael J. Astrue

September 10, 2012

MICKEY JENKINS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Nora Barry Fischer

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

Mickey Jenkins ("Plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking review of the final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant" or "Commissioner") denying his application for supplemental security income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381 -- 1383f ("Act"). This matter comes before the court on cross motions for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 12, 16). The record has been developed at the administrative level. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED, and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

II.PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff applied for SSI on June 19, 2008, claiming a disability onset of June 1, 2008.

(R. at 114 -- 20)*fn1 . His alleged inability to work full-time stemmed from a number of physical and mental impairments including head, back, and leg injuries, and bipolar disorder. (R. at 128). Plaintiff was initially denied benefits on October 15, 2008. (R. at 69 -- 73). A hearing was scheduled for January 27, 2010, and Plaintiff appeared to testify, represented by counsel. (R. at 25 -- 66). A vocational expert also testified. (R. at 25 -- 66). The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") issued his decision denying benefits to Plaintiff on March 15, 2010. (R. at 7 -- 24). Plaintiff filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council, which request was denied on October 11, 2011, thereby making the decision of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. (R. at 1 -- 4).

Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this court on December 19, 2011. (ECF No. 3). Defendant filed his Answer on April 24, 2012. (ECF No. 6). Cross motions for summary judgment followed. (ECF Nos. 12, 16).

III.STATEMENT OF FACTS

A. Plaintiff's General Background

Plaintiff was born on August 17, 1988 and was twenty-one*fn2 years of age at the time of his administrative hearing. (R. at 31). Plaintiff was a high school graduate, and received vocational training in heating, air conditioning, and drafting. (R. at 32, 38). Just prior to Plaintiff's junior year of high school, he was involved in a severe accident on his all-terrain vehicle ("ATV") when he collided head-on into an automobile. (R. at 179). Among other things, Plaintiff required five plates to be inserted into his head and a rod into his right leg. (R. at 39 -- 40). Plaintiff has since continued to live in the same home as his mother, stepfather, stepbrother, and sister. (R. at 45). His mother and stepfather do most of the cooking and laundry, and his sister mows the lawn. (R. 53 -- 54). Plaintiff helps his mother around the house while she is at work by doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, taking out small items of trash, and caring for their two puppies. (R. at 53 -- 54). Plaintiff subsisted on the support of his parents, and he received medical benefits and food stamps through the state. (R. at 44 -- 45).

Plaintiff was last employed between May and August 2008 at a local Shop and Save grocery store as a stockperson for frozen foods and dairy products. (R. at 35 -- 36). He voluntarily quit this position due to difficulties with co-workers and a supervisor. (R. at 37). Prior to his time at Shop and Save, Plaintiff had also been employed at J and J Mechanical in 2007, where he worked with a plasma cutter to produce ductwork out of sheet metal. (R. at 38). He was laid off after four or five months. (R. at 38).

Plaintiff also worked as a volunteer firefighter for a local company. (R. at 34 -- 35). However, following his ATV accident, it was increasingly difficult for him to perform regular firefighting duties, and he was relegated mostly to directing traffic following automobile collisions once or twice every other month. (R. at 34 -- 35).

B. Plaintiff's Medical History

In Plaintiff's disability report he claimed that the metal rod in his leg, his head injury, and his diagnosis of bipolar disorder limited his ability to work. (R. at 128). He asserted that since the ATV accident, he had difficulty interacting with others, could only walk 500 feet before needing a ten to twenty minute rest, could only pay attention for 15 minutes, and had trouble finishing activities. (R. at 142). Plaintiff felt pain when squatting, bending, or experiencing a temperature change. (R. at 145). Since January 27, 2010, Plaintiff had been taking Celexa,*fn3

Trazodone,*fn4 and Vistaril.*fn5 (R. at 42).

1.Physical History

On June 4, 2006, Plaintiff collided with a van, head -on, while driving his ATV without a helmet. (R. at 179). He was flown by helicopter from the accident scene to West Virginia University Hospital. (R. at 179). After being admitted to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Plaintiff was taken to the operating room for right frontal craniotomy neurosurgery,*fn6 facial plastic surgery, right tibia IM nail surgery,*fn7 and closure of the thigh laceration that he sustained.

(R. at 172). Plaintiff then had right orbital rim roof*fn8 and lateral orbital wall*fn9 reconstruction by ophthalmological surgeons. (R. at 172). He was discharged from the hospital on June 12, 2006 with several diagnoses including: depressed skull fracture,*fn10 right distal tibia shaft fracture,*fn11 right acetabular fracture,*fn12 right orbital bone fracture, L1 transverse process fracture,*fn13 right thigh laceration, and subarachnoid hemorrhage.*fn14 (R. at 174, 177). Upon discharge, he was prescribed Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment,*fn15 Senokot,*fn16 Colace,*fn17 an insulin sliding scale,*fn18 Famotidine,*fn19 and Clindamycin.*fn20 (R. at 174).

Plaintiff's final follow up examination for the injuries he suffered in the ATV accident occurred on July 17, 2006. (R. at 238). Medical records from this exam provide:

"No detectable interval change in the position and configuration of the residual orbital fracture fragments or the metallic mesh and screw fixation. There had been interval development of pneumocephalus*fn21 and more gas was identified in the superior aspect of the right orbit. Parenchymal*fn22 volume loss compatible ...

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