United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
J. RUETER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Kevin Darnell Finklea, filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner”) denying his claim
for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under
Title II of the Social Security Act (“Act”).
filed a Brief and Statement of Issues in Support of Request
for Review (Doc. 17) (“Pl.'s Br.”) and
defendant filed a Response to Plaintiff's Request for
Review (Doc. 20) (“Def.'s Br.”). For the
reasons set forth below, the court recommends that
plaintiff's Request for Review be
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
filed an application for DIB on March 23, 2015, alleging
disability beginning May 31, 2014. (R. 193-201.)
Plaintiff's claims were denied initially and upon
reconsideration; he then filed a timely request for a
hearing. (R. 97-138.) A hearing was held on January 12, 2018,
before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Marc
Silverman. (R. 29-96.) Plaintiff, represented by counsel,
appeared and testified. Vanessa Ennis, a vocational expert
(“VE”), also testified. During the administrative
hearing, plaintiff's counsel requested that the alleged
onset date be amended to June 19, 2015. (R.
72-73.) In a decision dated February 9, 2018, the
ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled under the Act. (R.
11-29.) The ALJ made the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2020.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since June 19, 2015, the amended alleged onset date.
(20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
Disorder of the back (Exhibit 3F, page 10) - lumbar spine
x-rays taken April 14, 2015 show moderate degenerative
changes at ¶ 5-S1 with mild degenerative changes at all
other levels (Exhibit 2F, pages 99, 66); plantar calcaneal
spur, right foot (Exhibit 3F, page 8); enthesophye at
Achilles insertion, left foot (Exhibit 3F, page 9); bilateral
knee disorder (Exhibit 2F, page 100 - bilateral knee x-rays
show moderate degenerative changes); and depression (Exhibit
2F, page 73) (20 CFR 404.1520(c)). The claimant has the
following nonsevere impairments: diabetes mellitus (Exhibit
2F); history of alcohol abuse, in remission (Exhibit 2F, page
73, Exhibit 4F, page 433); history of cocaine abuse, in
remission (Exhibit 2F, page 73, Exhibit 4F, page 433);
obstructive sleep apnea and the claimant was prescribed CPAP;
Exhibit 4F, page 101 reported he uses CPAP sporadically); and
tenderness along the bilateral metatarsal heads most
consistent with metatarsalgia (Exhibit 3F, page 4). The
consultative examiner observed that the claimant was able to
ambulate without much difficulty, no significant swelling of
the bilateral feet, and good range of motion of both feet.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find
that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except
that he can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; can
climb ramps and stairs occasionally; he has no limitation as
to balancing; can stoop, kneel, and crouch occasionally; can
never crawl; and is limited to simple, routine tasks.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on May 6, 1964 and was 51 years old,
which is defined as an individual closely approaching
advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR
8. The claimant has a high school education, and additional
vocational training, and is able to communicate in English
(20 CFR 404.1564).
9. The claimant has no transferable job skills (20 CFR
10. 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 perform (20 CFR 404.1569 and
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from June 19, 2015, through the
date of this decision (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(g)).
filed a request for review of the decision of the ALJ that
was denied and the ALJ's decision became the final
decision of the Commissioner. (R. 1-8, 135-38.) Plaintiff now
seeks judicial review of the ALJ's decision pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
role of this court on judicial review is to determine whether
there is substantial evidence in the record to support the
Commissioner's decision. Hagans v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 694 F.3d 287, 292 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g)), cert. denied, 571 U.S. 1204 (2014);
Plummer v. Apfel, 186 F.3d 422, 427 (3d Cir. 1999).
Substantial evidence is defined as “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Biestek v. Berryhill,
139 S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019) (quoting Consol. Edison Co.
v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). Substantial evidence
is more than a mere scintilla of evidence, but may be less
than a preponderance of the evidence. Jesurum v.
Sec'y of U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Serv.,
48 F.3d 114, 117 (3d Cir. 1995). This court may not weigh
evidence or substitute its conclusions for those of the
fact-finder. Burns v. Barnhart, 312 F.3d 113, 118
(3d Cir. 2002) (citing Williams v. Sullivan, 970
F.2d 1178, 1182 (3d Cir. 1992)). As the Third Circuit has
stated, “so long as an agency's fact-finding is
supported by substantial evidence, reviewing courts lack
power to reverse . . . those findings.” Monsour
Med. Ctr. v. Heckler, 806 F.2d 1185, 1191 (3d Cir.
eligible for benefits, the claimant must demonstrate an
“inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). Specifically, the impairments must be such that
the claimant “is not only unable to do his previous
work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work
experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful
work which exists in the national economy.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 423(d)(2)(A). Under ...