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Rodriguez v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 30, 2015

JOSE L. RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

RICHARD A. LLORET, Magistrate Judge.

Jose Rodriguez ("Rodriguez") alleges the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") erred in denying his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") by deciding that he could perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, and was therefore not disabled under the Social Security Act. Pl's Br. and Statement of Issues in Supp. of Req. for Rev. 2-10 ["Pl's Br."]. Plaintiff's sole contention is that the jobs identified by the vocational expert are inconsistent with his Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC") and the job requirements listed in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT"). See id. at 3.

After careful review, I find that there was not an inconsistency between the DOT and RFC findings in this case. I respectfully recommend that the request for review be DENIED and the judgment of the ALJ be AFFIRMED.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The ALJ denied Rodriguez's claim for SSI on August 18, 2011. R. 28. Applying the five-step sequential analysis, [1] the ALJ found Rodriguez had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 9, 2010. R. 23. He was found to have suffered from the following severe impairments cervical spine/left upper extremity impairment and left knee osteoarthritis. Id (citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(c)). None of these impairments or combination of impairments equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments. R. 24; see also 20 CFR § 416.920(d).

In addition, the ALJ found that

the claimant has the residual functional capacity to a restricted range of light work activity ( i.e. work that requires maximum lifting of 20 pounds and frequent lifting of 10 pounds; some light jobs are performed while standing, and those performed in the seated position often require operation of hand or leg controls; a person capable of performing light work can, in most cases, also perform sedentary work[2] (citing 20 CFR 416.967(b)).

R. 24-25. Based on this RFC and Rodriguez's age, education, work experience, and testimony from the vocational expert, the ALJ found that he could perform various jobs in the national economy, including as a cashier-parking lot (exertionally light), order clerk (exertionally sedentary), and charge account clerk (exertionally sedentary). R. 27. In concluding his opinion, the ALJ found that Rodriguez was not disabled. R. 28.

The Appeals Council denied Rodriguez's request for review on February 22, 2013. R. 1-4. He brings this civil action for judicial review through 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

FACTUAL HISTORY

At the time of the ALJ decision, Rodriguez was 48 years old. R. 35. His past relevant work experience included a position as a truck driver. R. 53. He had an eleventh grade education. R. 157. Rodriguez initially filed an application for Social Security benefits on February 9, 2010. R. 67. That application was denied. R. 73. Rodriguez requested a hearing before the ALJ, which was held on January 26, 2011. R. 31. The ALJ ruled against Rodriguez on August 18, 2011. R. 28. The Appeals Council also denied that application. R. 1-4.

During the ALJ hearing, Rodriguez testified about his various physical limitations. He was admitted to Temple University Hospital in June of 2010 for an MRI performed on his neck. R. 41. Rodriguez described his pain as "about an eight..." Id. He takes Xanax for sleep relief, along with Omeprazole for his stomach and Hydrocodone for pain relief, as well as a handful of other drugs that he could not recall during the administrative hearing. R. 42-44.

The claimant then detailed his treatment history with his left knee. He testified that his problems with his knee began at a young age, after he was cut and the wound became infected. R. 48. He also described his household activities, including the fact that his niece is responsible for most of the chores. R. 51. During the day, Rodriguez mentioned that he sometimes reads a book or talks to family members who live near him. R. 53. He also walks around his neighborhood or walks to doctor's appointments which are located about two blocks from his house. Id. He can only walk a block or two before he must stop for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. R. 54.

Next, the ALJ heard testimony from Gary Young, a vocational expert assigned to the case. The vocational expert testified that Rodriguez performed work as a light truck driver, DOT code 906.683-022, semi-skilled SVP[3] of 3 and medium exertion. R. 55-56. He also admitted that none of the skills Rodriguez used as a light truck driver could transfer from light or sedentary work. R. 56. Because the claimant needs a cane to walk and the numerous medical problems available from the record, Rodriguez was "limited to simple jobs, to routine-type jobs." R. 57. Further, the vocational expert noted that "[Rodriguez] has cervical disc problems and a left shoulder problem. So he won't be able to use his arm that much." R. 58. As a truck driver was no longer a ...


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