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Rimel v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 25, 2014

WILLIAM JOSEPH RIMEL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION RE: CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NOS. 11 AND 15)

ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, William Joseph Rimel ("Plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the Social Security Act (the "Act"), seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his application for supplemental security income ("SSI"). The parties have submitted Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment on the record developed at the administrative proceedings. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 11) will be DENIED. The Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 15) will be GRANTED and the administrative decision of the Commissioner will be AFFIRMED.

II. Procedural History

On April 20, 2010, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI, alleging disability beginning January 1, 2009. R. 19. The claim was initially denied on December 9, 2010. R. 19. On January 27, 2011, the claimant filed a written request for hearing pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.1429, et. seq. R. 19. An administrative hearing was held on February 29, 2012, in Seven Fields, Pennsylvania, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") David F. Brash. R. 34-68. The Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, appeared and testified. R. 35-61. George Starosta, an impartial vocational expert ("VE"), also testified. R. 61-68.

In a decision dated March 9, 2012, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. R. 29. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on June 24, 2013, thereby making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner in this case. R. 2-5.

Plaintiff commenced the present action on August 22, 2013, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision. Doc. No. 2. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on January 2, 2014. Doc. No. 11. Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on February 25, 2014. Doc. No. 15. These motions are the subject of this Memorandum Opinion.

III. Statement of the Case

In the ALJ's decision, he made the following findings:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 20, 2010, the application date (20 C.F.R. § 416.971 et seq.). R. 20.
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: claw feet, status-post right foot surgery and degenerative arthritis, left hip osteoarthritis, status-post right foot ulceration, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), status-post pulmonary embolism and pleural effusion, and status-post heart failure (20 C.F.R. § 416.920(c)). R. 20.
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926). R. 20.
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the ALJ found that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(a) except he can never push or pull with his legs and can never operate foot controls, bilaterally; can never climb a ladder, rope, or scaffold; can never crouch or crawl; can only occasionally climb ramps or stairs; can only occasionally balance, stoop, or kneel; will require a sit-stand option, at the work station, with intervals no more frequent than every thirty (30) minutes; must avoid even moderate exposure to gasses, fumes, and like respiratory irritants; must avoid even moderate expose to wetness, humidity, and temperature extremes; is limited to indoor work; and must avoid even moderate exposure to unprotected heights, dangerous machinery, and like hazards. R. 22.
5. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 C.F.R. § 416.965). R. 27.
6. The claimant was born on February 10, 1969 and is 41 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the date the application ...

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