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Johnson v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 20, 2015

JEFFREY BLAIR JOHNSON, Plaintiff.
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION[1]

JOHN C. NIVISON, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Jeffrey Johnson applied for disability benefits under Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Defendant, the Social Security Administration Acting Commissioner, found that Plaintiff has severe impairments, but that he retains the functional capacity to perform substantial gainful activity. Defendant, therefore, denied Plaintiff's request for disability benefits.

The matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's request for judicial review of the administrative determination. As explained below, following a review of the record, and after consideration of the parties' written and oral arguments, the Court affirms the administrative decision.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE FINDINGS

Although Plaintiff initially applied for benefits under Title XVI and Title II, Plaintiff amended the date of alleged onset of disability, which date falls outside of the period for which Plaintiff had insured status under Title II. Consequently, the ALJ dismissed the Title II claim and the only claim before the Court is Plaintiff's claim for supplemental security income benefits under Title XVI.[2]

The decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)[3] tracks the familiar five-step sequential evaluation process for analyzing social security disability claims, 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. At step 1 of the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity from December 31, 2009, the amended date of alleged onset of disability. (ALJ's Decision, ECF No. 6-2, ¶ 1.) At step 2, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments:

Cervical and lumbar degenerative disk disease;
Borderline intellectual functioning;
Affective disorder/depression (not otherwise specified);
Personality disorder with antisocial traits; and
Substance addiction disorder.

( Id., ¶ 2.) The ALJ also concluded that the following impairments were non-severe: arthritic knee pain, alleged symptoms related to kidney and liver function, and complaints of shoulder and ankle pain. ( Id. )

At step 3, the ALJ found that the combination of impairments would not meet or equal any listing in the Commissioner's Listing of Impairments, Appendix 1 to 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, with specific attention given to Listings 1.04, 12.02, 12.04, and 12.08. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff's mental limitations impose mild limitations in activities of daily living, moderate difficulties in social functioning, and moderate difficulties in concentration, persistence, and pace. ( Id., ¶ 3.)

Prior to further evaluation at steps 4 and 5, the ALJ assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC). As to Plaintiff's Statement of Errors, [4] the ALJ did not find any limitation in Plaintiff's ability to use his upper extremities to reach, grasp, or turn and twist objects, [5] and found that Plaintiff can ...


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