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Snyder v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

November 7, 2017

THOMAS SNYDER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL[1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.

          MARIANI JUDGE.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUSAN E. SCHWAB UNITED STATES CHIEF MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         This is an action brought under Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying the claim of Plaintiff Thomas Snyder (“Mr. Snyder”) for disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act.

         This matter has been referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge to prepare a report and recommended disposition, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Jurisdiction is conferred on this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g). For the reasons expressed herein, the Court recommends that the Commissioner's final decision be AFFIRMED, and that Mr. Snyder's requests for relief be DENIED.

         II. Background and Procedural History

         Plaintiff Thomas Snyder (“Mr. Snyder”) alleges he is disabled due to back degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine. (Pl. Br. 2; Doc. 7 p. 2). He testified he has difficulty turning his neck to the left and to the right. (Admin. Tr. 36; Doc. 6-2 p. 37). Mr. Snyder also testified that severe pain in his neck is what stops him from working. (Admin. Tr. 37; Doc. 6-2 p. 38).

         Mr. Snyder was born on February 17, 1956, and is an adult individual who resides within the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Admin. Tr. 31; Doc. 6-2 p. 32). At the time of his hearing, Mr. Snyder was married and lived with his wife. (Admin. Tr. 35-36; Doc. 6-2 pp. 36-37). Mr. Snyder completed high school and one year of college. (Admin. Tr. 36; Doc. 6-2 p. 37). His relevant past work experience includes ancillary service representative, roll-form machine operator, and technical support technician. (Admin. Tr. 20; Doc. 6-2 p. 21).

         On July 8, 2013, Mr. Snyder filed for Title II disability insurance benefits alleging disability beginning July 27, 2012. (Admin. Tr. 12; Doc. 6-2 p. 13). The alleged onset date was later amended to February 5, 2013. Id. The claim was initially denied on November 6, 2013. Id. ALJ Jarrod Tranguch held a hearing on this claim on March 26, 2015. Id.

         On June 19, 2015, the ALJ issued an opinion finding Mr. Snyder was not disabled under the Social Security Act. The ALJ followed the five-step analysis for disability claims under the Social Security Act. At Step One, the ALJ determined that Mr. Snyder was not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the time of his alleged onset of disability. (Admin. Tr. 14; Doc. 6-2 p. 15). At Step Two, the ALJ found Mr. Snyder had the following severe impairment: degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine. Id. He also found the following four medically-determinable-but-non-severe impairments: (1) hypertension; (2) high cholesterol; (3) diabetes; and, (4) history of depression. (Admin. Tr. 14-15; Doc. 6-2 pp. 15-16). At Step Three, he determined that Mr. Snyder's severe impairments did not meet or equal any of the listed impairments. (Admin. Tr. 15-16; Doc. 6-2 pp. 16-17).

         Between Step 3 and Step 4, the ALJ found Mr. Snyder possessed the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work, with the following specifications:

he can lift and/or carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and up to 10 pounds frequently; he can only occasionally use his upper extremities for pushing and/or pulling, such as operating levers and hand controls; he should avoid occupations that require crawling and climbing ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; he must avoid overhead work; he must avoid concentrated exposure to vibrations, especially those that affect the upper extremities; and he must avoid concentrated exposure to workplace hazards, such an unprotected heights and dangerous machinery.

(Admin. Tr. 16; Doc. 6-2 p. 17). At Step Four, the ALJ found that through Mr. Snyder was capable of performing his past relevant work as an ancillary service representative and a technical support technician. (Admin. Tr. 20; Doc. 6-2 p. 21). The ALJ came to this conclusion by finding that work did not require performance of any activities precluded by his RFC assessment. Id. Additionally, ALJ averred that Mr. Snyder could even perform this work had he been found limited to sedentary work. Id. This adverse finding at Step Four rendered Mr. Snyder not disabled under the Act and therefore the ALJ did not proceed to Step Five.

         The agency Appeals Council denied Mr. Snyder's request for review on October 11, 2016. (Admin. Tr. 1; Doc. 6-2 p. 2). On October 31, 2016, Mr. Snyder filed a civil action with this Court seeking review. (Complaint 1-6; Doc. 1 pp. 2-7). This matter has been ...


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