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Wilson v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee

January 12, 2015



JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.

Plaintiff filed this action to obtain judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying his application for supplemental security income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381 et seq. Plaintiff received SSI as a minor. His claim was reevaluated upon his reaching the age of eighteen, and it was determined that his disability ceased as of April 2007. Thus, SSI benefits were terminated.

Plaintiff appealed the redetermination decision. Following a hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision in May 2009. Plaintiff sought review of the unfavorable decision by the Appeals Council. While Plaintiff's request for review was pending with the Appeals Council, Plaintiff protectively filed another application for SSI benefits, alleging disability beginning May 19, 2009.

On February 26, 2010, the Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's request for review, vacated the ALJ's unfavorable decision, and remanded the claim to the ALJ for additional consideration. The Appeals Council considered Plaintiff's July 7, 2009 SSI application to be duplicative of the case before it and ordered the ALJ to associate Plaintiff's second application with the case being remanded and issue a consolidated decision.

A hearing was conducted on February 17, 2011. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on June 17, 2011. The Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ's decision. This decision became the Commissioner's final decision. Plaintiff then filed this action. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

A Social Security claimant may obtain judicial review of any final decision made by the Commissioner after a hearing to which he was a party. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). "The court shall have the power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing." Id . The court's review is limited to determining whether or not there is substantial evidence to support the Commissioner's decision, id.; Jones v. Commissioner, 336 F.3d 469, 478 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Wyatt v. Secretary, 974 F.2d 680, 683 (6th Cir. 1992)), and whether the correct legal standards were applied. Landsaw v. Secretary, 803 F.2d 211, 213 (6th Cir. 1986).

The Commissioner, not the court, is charged with the duty to weigh the evidence, to make credibility determinations and resolve material conflicts in the testimony, and to decide the case accordingly. See Crum v. Sullivan, 921 F.2d 642, 644 (6th Cir. 1990). When substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's determination, it is conclusive, even if substantial evidence also supports the opposite conclusion. Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986).

Plaintiff was born on June 26, 1988, and was twenty one years old at the time of the filing of his second application for benefits on July 7, 2009. R. 251-252. He completed the eleventh grade and attended special education classes. R. 710, 717. Plaintiff has no past relevant work. R. 708, 722. Plaintiff alleges that he can not work because he has been a slow learner since birth, R. 56, and has depression. R. 317.

In the decision, the ALJ enumerated the following findings: (1) Plaintiff attained the age eighteen on June 20, 2006, and was eligible for SSI benefits as a child for the month preceding the month in which he attained age eighteen; Plaintiff was notified that he was found no longer disabled as of April 1, 2007, based on a redetermination of disability under the rules for adults who file new applications; (2) Plaintiff filed a new application for SSI payments on July 7, 2009, and the remand renders it duplicative (3) Since April 1, 2007, Plaintiff has had the following severe impairment: borderline intellectual functioning; however, the evidence does not establish medical findings which meet or equal in severity the clinical criteria of any impairment listed in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4; (4) Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of work at all exertional levels but is limited to simple, routine, repetitive work tasks that do not require more than level one verbal reasoning; (5) Plaintiff has no past relevant work; (6) Plaintiff was a younger individual on his alleged onset date; (7) Plaintiff has a limited education; (8) Transferability of job skills is not an option because Plaintiff has no past work relevant work; (9) Based on Plaintiff's age, work experience, education, and residual functional capacity, there are a significant number of jobs in the national economy which he can perform; (10) Plaintiff was not under a disability as defined in the Act at any time through the date of this decision.

The Social Security Act defines disability as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1). The claimant bears the ultimate burden of establishing an entitlement to benefits. Born v. Secretary, 923 F.2d 1168, 1173 (6th Cir. 1990). The initial burden of going forward is on the claimant to show that he is disabled from engaging in his former employment; the burden of going forward then shifts to the Commissioner to demonstrate the existence of available employment compatible with the claimant's disability and background. Id.

The Commissioner conducts the following, five-step analysis to determine if an individual is disabled within the meaning of the Act:

1. An individual who is engaging in substantial gainful activity will not be found to be disabled regardless of medical findings.
2. An individual who does not have a severe impairment will not be found to be disabled.
3. A finding of disability will be made without consideration of vocational factors, if an individual is not working and is suffering from a severe impairment which meets the duration requirement and which meets or equals a ...

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