United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
RONALD E. KLEIN, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.
Plaintiff, Ronald E. Klein ("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 ("Defendant" or "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 (ECF No. 11) will be DENIED. The Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 13) will be GRANTED and the administrative decision of the Commissioner will be AFFIRMED.
II. Procedural History
On March 22, 2011, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI, alleging disability beginning November 1, 2004, due to a back injury, depression, a foot injury, and wrist problem. (R. at 139-145, 188). The claim was initially denied on May 31, 2011. (R. at 74). On June 15, 2011, Plaintiff filed a written request for hearing pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.1429, et. seq. (R. at 84-86). An administrative hearing was held on August 13, 2012, in Mars, Pennsylvania, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") John J. Porter. (R. at 25-56). Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, appeared and testified. (R. at 27-48). Ms. Kinley, an impartial vocational expert ("VE"), also testified. (R. at 48-55). In a decision dated September 27, 2012, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. (R. at 12-21). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on September 25, 2013 (R. at 1-6), thereby rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner in this case.
Plaintiff commenced the present action on October 16, 2013 seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision. (ECF No. 3). Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on February 22, 2014. (ECF No. 11). Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on March 17, 2014. (ECF No. 13). These motions are the subject of this Memorandum Opinion.
III. Statement of the Case
A. The ALJ's decision
In his decision denying SSI to Plaintiff, the ALJ made the following findings:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 22, 2011, the application date (20 C.F.R. § 416.971 et seq. ). (R. at 14).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: history of low back pain, fibromyositis, alcoholism, and a schizoaffective disorder 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(c)). (R. at 14).
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.at 14).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the ALJ found that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b) except he must be afforded a sit/stand option and the ability to change positions at a maximum frequency of 30 minutes; was limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks not involving fast pace or more than simple work decisions; and could have only incidental collaboration with coworkers and the public and collaboration with the supervisor for about 1/6 of the time. (R. at 16).
5. The claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work (20 C.F.R. § 416.965). (R. at 19).
6. The claimant was born on April 1, 1959, and was 51 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the date the application was filed (20 C.F.R. § 416.963). (R. at 19).
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 C.F.R. § 416.968). (R. at 19).
8. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is "not disabled, " whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and (20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2). (R. at 19).
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 C.F.R. §§ 416.969 and 416.969(a)). (R. at 19).
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since April 20, 2010, the date the application was filed ...