United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
SANDRA MOORE WELLS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Finkbone (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“the Commissioner”), denying his claim for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act. Plaintiff has filed a
brief in support of his request for review, the Commissioner
has responded to it, and Plaintiff has filed a reply. For the
reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's request for review
is denied and judgment is entered in favor of the
PROCEDURAL HISTORY 
September 24, 2015, Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI,
alleging disability, because of physical and mental health
impairments, since January 1, 2015. R. 10. The claim was
denied, initially, and Plaintiff requested a hearing.
Id. On September 1, 2017, Plaintiff appeared before
Jasper J. Bede, Administrative Law Judge (“the
ALJ”), for a video hearing; Plaintiff, who was
represented by an attorney, and vocational expert Patricia
Scutt (“the VE”) testified at the hearing. R.
64-101. On January 11, 2018, the ALJ, using the sequential
evaluation process for disability, issued an unfavorable
decision. R. 10-22. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review, on December 4, 2018,
making the ALJ's findings the final determination of the
Commissioner. R. 1-3. The parties have consented to this
court's jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
born on April 17, 1978, R. 21, was 40 years old when the ALJ
rendered his decision. He completed high school, R. 21, and
worked as a cashier, assistant manager, kitchen helper, and
plastic press molder. R. 74-75. Plaintiff lives with his
disabled mother. R. 59.
September 1, 2017 video hearing, Plaintiff testified about
his limitations. R. 41-73. Plaintiff's primary problem is
pain and fatigue in his legs caused by diabetes, artery
problems and neuropathy. R. 53, 73. Plaintiff also suffers
from anxiety and depression. R. 73. Plaintiff takes a great
deal of medication for his conditions. R. 54-57.
Additionally, his doctor believes Plaintiff suffers from
COPD, but his insurance will not cover any medication for
that condition. R. 58. Plaintiff was not certain whether some
of his symptoms were side-effects from his medications or
simply symptoms caused by his poor health. R. 67.
sleeps poorly and does not feel rested when awakening. R.
60-63, 66-67. He typically retires at midnight but often
cannot fall asleep for hours. R. 62-63. Because sleep comes
unpredictably, some days he awakens at 9:00 or 10:00 in the
morning; on other days, he awakens in the afternoon. R. 60,
62. Plaintiff does not intentionally nap, but, once or twice
per month, he dozes off unexpectedly. R. 67. When he is
awake, Plaintiff spends a good deal of time sitting in a
chair with his legs propped up while he watches television.
R. 63. While seated, he performs breathing exercises to
alleviate his anxiety and depression and stretching exercises
for his calves. Id.
testified that he could walk approximately two blocks without
discomfort and stand for approximately 45 minutes before the
neuropathy in his left leg would cause excessive pain. R. 72.
He can sit for long stretches of time, so long as his legs
are propped up. R. 73.
is able to dress and shower without assistance; however, when
donning trousers while standing, he needs to hold onto
something for support. R. 68. He can grocery shop (once a
week), launder clothes, and wash dishes. R. 62, 68-69.
Plaintiff's mother cooks meals for both of them. R. 61.
testified that Plaintiff's past cashier job was medium,
semi-skilled work, his assistant manager positions were
light and medium, skilled jobs (with
non-transferrable skills) and his plastic press molder job
constituted light, unskilled work. R. 74-75. The ALJ asked the
VE to consider a person, limited to sedentary work, and unable
to deal with the public or work closely with others as part
of a team. R. 76. The VE responded this person could not
perform any of Plaintiff's past work, but could perform
the following, unskilled jobs: (1) document preparer (174,
000 positions nationally); (2) pharmaceutical egg processor
(300, 000 position nationally); and (3) circuit board layout
taper (290, 000 positions nationally). R. 76. The VE also
stated that, if the person was off-task as much as 20 percent
of the time, he could not sustain competitive employment. R.
77. The VE further testified that, for unskilled laborers,
employers typically tolerated seven to ten days of absences
in the first year of employment. R. 77-78. Finally, the VE
testified that the three alternative positions she had
identified could be performed, even if the worker had to
elevate his leg to knee level, since the jobs were performed
in the seated position. R. 78-79.
THE ALJ's FINDINGS
decision, the ALJ issued the following findings:
1. [Plaintiff] meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through June 30, 2018.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since March 16, 2015, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq. and 416.971 et seq.).
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: diabetes
mellitus type one with peripheral neuropathy, peripheral
arterial disease, chronic obstructi[ve] pulmonary ...