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Dougherty v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 18, 2014

STEPHEN DOUGHERTY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Stephen Dougherty ("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 disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and 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. 12) 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

As a child, Dougherty received SSI benefits based on a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. (R. at 21).[1] Upon reaching the age of 18, his eligibility for SSI benefits was redetermined under the rules for determining disability in adults. (R. at 21, 33-34). This redetermination resulted in a finding that Plaintiff was no longer disabled as of September 1, 2010. (R. at 21).

On June 4, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB, alleging disability beginning on June 3, 2012, again due to Asperger's syndrome. (R. at 83-84). An administrative hearing was held on December 4, 2012, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Daniel F. Cusick. (R. at 21). Plaintiff, his grandmother, a caseworker named Charles Giambrone, and a vocational expert, George J. Starosta, each testified at the hearing. (R. at 324-367).

On December 27, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision in which he determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (R. at 32). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on May 13, 2013, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner in this case. (R. at 12-14).

Plaintiff commenced the instant action on September 19, 2013, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision. (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on February 26, 2014. (Doc. No. 12). The Commissioner filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on March 25, 2014. (Doc. No. 15). These motions are the subject of this Memorandum Opinion.

III. Statement of the Case

In his decision, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant attained age 18 on May 8, 2009, and was eligible for supplemental security income benefits as a child for the month preceding the month in which he attained age 18. The claimant was notified that he was found no longer disabled as of September 1, 2010, based on a redetermination of disability under the rules for adults who file new applications. (R. at 25).
2. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through March 31, 2013. (R. at 25).
3. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 3, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 C.F.R. § 404.1571 et seq.). (R. at 25).
4. Since September 1, 2010, the claimant has had the following severe impairments: Asperger's syndrome, Tourette's syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and oppositional defiance disorder (ODD) (20 C.F.R. 416.920(c)). (R. at 25).
5. Since September 1, 2010, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926)). (R. at 26).
6. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that since September 1, 2010, the claimant has had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: the claimant is limited to performing only simple, routine, repetitive tasks involving only simple work related decisions with few, if any, work place changes, and no tandem tasks. The claimant is limited to only occasional interaction with the public, co-workers, and supervisors. (R. at 27-30).
7. Since September 1, 2010, the claimant has been unable to perform any past relevant work. (20 C.F.R. 416.965)). (R. at 30).
8. The claimant was born on May 9, 1991 and is a younger individual age 18-49 (20 C.F.R. 416.963)). (R. at 31).
9. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English. (20 C.F.R. 416.964)). (R. at 31).
10. Transferability of job skills is not an issue in this case because the claimant's past relevant work is unskilled. (20 C.F.R. 416.968)). (R. at 31).
11. Since September 1, 2010, 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 ...

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