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Somerville v. Astrue

United States District Court, Third Circuit

August 5, 2013

CHRISTOPHER SOMERVILLE, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

OPINION

MAURICE B. COHILL, Jr., Senior District Judge.

I. Introduction

This case is before us on appeal from a final decision by the defendant, Commissioner of Social Security ("the Commissioner"), denying Christopher Somerville's claim for supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f. The parties have submitted cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, we will deny the Plaintiff's motion and grant the Defendant's motion.

II. Procedural History

Christopher Somerville applied for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383fon December 9, 2008, alleging a disability due to borderline intellectual functioning and back pain, with an alleged onset date of December 31, 2004. Plaintiff's claim was initially denied on February 20, 2009. A timely request for a hearing was filed by Plaintiff on May 11, 2009. A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on August 24, 2010, at which Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified. R. at 40-80. Plaintiff's mother and a vocational expert also testified at the hearing. R. 80-89; 89-94.

By decision dated October 6, 2010, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is not disabled under § 1614(a)(3)(A) of the SSA. R. at 20-31. The ALJ found that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: obesity; borderline intellectual functioning; intermittent explosive disorder; and chronic low back pain. R.22. The ALJ further found that Plaintiff does not have a severe impairment in the form of sleep apnea, noting that he responds well to use of a CPAP machine, a sleep study test was normal, and there is no other record evidence regarding sleep problems after November 2009. R. 22.

The ALJ also determined that none of the impairments or combination of impairments meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. R. 22-24.

The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform light work, except that he needs to alternate between sitting and standing as needed; he cannot perform more than occasional postural activities (such as climbing, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling); he cannot perform work involving close proximity to occupational hazards; he must avoid temperature extremes and airborne irritants; he is limited to performing no more than simple, routine repetitive tasks in a low stress work environment not involving any complex decision-making, high-volume productivity requirements, or very infrequent unexpected changes in the workplace; he cannot perform work where he would interact with the public or have more than occasional interaction with coworkers and supervisors; he cannot perform work involving more than the most rudimentary reading ability; and he cannot perform work involving any math calculations. R. 24-29.

In making this determination the ALJ made the following credibility determination:

I find that the claimant's medically determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to cause the alleged symptoms; however, the claimant's statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these symptoms are not credible to the extent they are inconsistent with the above residual functional capacity assessment.

R.25.

Considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, the ALJ concluded that he is able to "make a successful adjustment to other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy, and therefore he is "not disabled." R. 31.

Plaintiff filed a timely review of the ALJ's determination, which was denied by the Appeals Council on June 22, 2012. R. 1-6. Having exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed the instant action seeking judicial review of the final decision ...


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