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Pelley v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 23, 2014

DAVID PELLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, [1] COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MARK R. HORNAK, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, David Pelley, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c), for judicial review of the final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his application for supplemental security income ("SSI") /disability insurance benefits ("DIB") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-403; 1381-1383(f).

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Plaintiff was born on April 3, 1958, and was 53 years old at the time of the ALI's decision. (Tr. 40). Mr. Pelley graduated from high school, has no formal education beyond that, and his past relevant work includes employment as a taxi driver, automobile mechanic, general laborer, and as a service manager. Id. at 40-44.

Plaintiff alleges disability as of June 30, 2008, id. at 133, due to narcolepsy, depression, carpal tunnel syndrome in his hands, a swollen left ankle, a lump on the bottom of his left foot, and a history of neck and back pain, id. at 150. Mr. Pelley testified that he last worked in 2007, id. at 41, but a June 16, 2008 progress note does show that he was working at a trailer repair shop at that time, id. at 205; see also id. at 151 (Disability Report representing that Mr. Pelley worked as a laborer for a trailer manufacturer until June of 2008). The record reflects that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful work activity since his alleged date of disability.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff initially filed an application for SSI/DIB on September 15, 2009, in which he claimed total disability since June 30, 2008. Id. at 57-58. An administrative hearing was held on October 18, 2011, before Administrative Law Judge David J. Kozma ("ALJ"). Id. at 28. Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified at the hearing. Id. at 39. Tania J. Shullo, an impartial vocational expert ("VE"), also testified at the hearing. Id. at 9, 54.

On October 26, 2011, the ALJ rendered a decision unfavorable to Plaintiff in which he found that Plaintiff is capable of making a successful adjustment to other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy, and therefore, is not "disabled" within the meaning of the Act. Id. at 20. The ALI's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on May 8, 2013, when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request to review the decision of the ALJ. Id. at 1.

On June 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this Court seeking judicial review of the decision of the ALJ. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and for the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Commissioner and deny the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff.

III. LEGAL ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

The Act limits judicial review of disability claims to the Commissioner's final decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). If the Commissioner's finding is supported by substantial evidence, it is conclusive and must be affirmed by the Court. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Rutherford v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 546, 552 (3d Cir. 2005). The United States Supreme Court has defined "substantial evidence" as "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 ...


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