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Esser v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 28, 2018

JASON VON ESSER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,[1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          Mannion Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOSEPH F. SAPORITO, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is an action brought under 42 U.S.C. §1383(c) and 42 U.S.C. §405(g), seeking judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's (“Commissioner”) final decision denying Jason Von Esser's claims for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Jurisdiction is conferred on this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) and 42 U.S.C. §1383(c)(3).

         This matter has been referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for the preparation of the report and recommended disposition pursuant to the provisions of and 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B) and Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         For the reasons stated herein, we find that the ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence. Therefore, we recommend that the final decision denying Von Esser's application for benefits be vacated and that case be remanded to the Commissioner.

         I. Procedural Background

         Von Esser, is an adult individual born August 16, 1986. Von Esser was twenty-four years of age at the time of his alleged onset of disability-January 15, 2011. (Tr. 20, 64). Von Esser's age at the onset date makes him a “younger person” under the Commissioner's regulations, whose age generally does not affect his ability to adjust to other work. See 20 C.F.R. §416.963.

         On September 10, 2013, Von Esser protectively filed an application for benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act alleging disability as of January 15, 2011. In his application, Von Esser alleged that the following impairments prevent him from engaging in any work: social/general anxiety disorder, depression, insomnia, and panic attacks. (Tr. 64).

         Von Esser's claim was initially denied on December 11, 2013. Thereafter, on January 30, 2014, Von Esser filed a timely request for an administrative hearing. His request was granted. Von Esser appeared and testified before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Michele Stolls on April 20, 2015. Von Esser was represented by counsel, John D. Michelin, throughout the proceeding. In addition, impartial vocational expert (“VE”) Nadine Henzes also appeared and testified during the administrative hearing.

         On May 5, 2015, the ALJ denied Von Esser's application for benefits in a written decision. On June 5, 2015, Von Esser sought further review of his claims by the Appeals Council, but his request was denied on September 13, 2016. This makes the ALJ's May 5, 2015, decision the final decision subject to judicial review by this Court.

         Von Esser filed a timely complaint in this Court on October 20, 2016. (Doc. 1). In his complaint, Von Esser alleges that the final decision of the Commissioner is not supported by substantial evidence, contains errors of law, and should be reversed and/or remanded for a new hearing.

         On December 27, 2016, the Commissioner filed her answer, in which she maintains that the ALJ's decision was made in accordance with the law and is supported by substantial evidence. (Doc. 9).

         This matter has been fully briefed by the parties and is ripe for decision. (Docs. 11, 12, and 13).

         II. Statement of Facts

         Von Esser was born on August 16, 1986, and at the time of his administrative hearing he was twenty-eight years of age. (Tr. 64). He completed a twelfth grade education and attended some college, but never received a college degree. (Tr. 111). Von Esser currently lives with his parents in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Tr. 40). Von Esser previously worked as a planogram team member at Target from October 2010 through January 2011. (Tr. 111). He claimed that his social and general anxiety order, depression, and panic attacks prevent him from working. (Tr. 64).

         Von Esser stated he does not help with chores around the house. He watches his dog and takes it for walks. (Tr. 41, 52). Von Esser stated that he plays video games during the day by himself and online, and watches television. (Tr. 56). Recently, he started cooking for himself because his mother is sick. (Tr. 52).

         Von Esser stated that he has a girlfriend. She comes to visit him at his parents' home where they hang out in his bedroom, watch television, play games, and eat meals together. He stated that they go ...


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