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Young v. Saul

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 22, 2019

BYRON C. YOUNG
v.
ANDREW SAUL,[1] COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

          ORDER

          JUAN R. SÁNCHEZ, C.J.

         AND NOW, this 22nd day of July, 2019, upon consideration of Plaintiff Byron C. Young's Brief and Statement of Issues in Support of Request for Judicial Review, Defendant Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security's response thereto, Young's reply, and after careful review of the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter and Young's objections, it is ORDERED:

1. Young's objections to the Report and Recommendation (Document 24) are OVERRULED[2];
2. The Report and Recommendation (Document 20) is APPROVED and ADOPTED;
3. Young's Request for Review (Document 14) is DENIED; and
4. Judgment is entered in favor of the Commissioner by separate order, filed contemporaneously.

         The Clerk of Court is directed to mark this case CLOSED.

---------

Notes:

[1] Andrew Saul became the Commissioner of Social Security on June 17, 2019. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d), Saul is substituted for Carolyn W. Colvin as the Defendant in this case.

[2] Plaintiff Byron C. Young seeks review of the denial of his application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income by Defendant Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security. In a decision issued on April 11, 2014, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) concluded Young was not disabled after applying the Social Security Administration's five-step sequential evaluation process. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. The ALJ first found Young had not engaged in substantial gainful employment since September 30, 2011. Second, she determined Young had the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis of the hip and knees with history of torn patella of the knees and right wrist osteoarthritis. At this stage, the ALJ noted that Young suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome but determined this was not a severe impairment. Third, the ALJ found Young's impairments did not equal the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Fourth, the ALJ concluded Young had the residual functional capacity to perform light work, subject to certain limitations limitations on his postural activities and exposure to certain environmental factors, rendering Young unable to perform any past relevant work. Fifth, the ALJ determined jobs Young could perform exist in significant numbers in the national economy.

In his Request for Review, Young argues the ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ erred by (1) “failing to find plaintiff's carpal tunnel syndrome . . . to be a severe impairment, ” Req. for Review 6, (2) “failing to assign great weight to the opinion of the treating orthopedist, ” id. at 9, and (3) basing “her denial of benefits on the [vocational expert's] answer to [her] defective” hypothetical question, id. at 18. On October 26, 2016, United States Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R) addressing these alleged errors, concluding the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence, and recommending the Commissioner's denial of benefits be affirmed.

On November 28, 2016, Young filed objections to the R&R reasserting the first two arguments he made in his Request for Review. Young argues (1) the ALJ “failed to find that [Young's] bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome was severe despite compelling evidence, ” and this error was not harmless, Objs. 3, and (2) “the ALJ rejected the opinion of the treating board-certified orthopedic surgeon for erroneous reasons, ” id. at 5. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), this Court reviews de novo “those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendation to which objection is made.”

Upon de novo review of the record, and in light of the fact that Judge Rueter has already considered and addressed Young's arguments that there was no substantial evidence to support the ALJ's finding that Young's carpal tunnel syndrome was not a severe impairment and the ALJ's rejection of the treating orthopedist's medical source statement, Young's objections are overruled for the reasons stated in the R&R. The Court will nevertheless address Young's ...


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