Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Freeman v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Maine

July 1, 2015

RAYMOND FREEMAN, Plaintiff
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION [1]

JOHN H. RICH III, Magistrate Judge.

This Social Security Disability ("SSD") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") appeal raises the question of whether the administrative law judge supportably found the plaintiff capable of performing work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. The plaintiff seeks remand on the bases that the administrative law judge erred in refusing to admit additional evidence submitted less than five days prior to his hearing and in rejecting an opinion of treating physician Nicolas Handanos, M.D. See Plaintiff's Itemized Statement of Errors ("Statement of Errors") (ECF No. 11) at 3-9. I find no reversible error and, accordingly, affirm the commissioner's decision.

Pursuant to the commissioner's sequential evaluation process, 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920; Goodermote v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 690 F.2d 5, 6 (1st Cir. 1982), the administrative law judge found, in relevant part, that the plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2009, Finding 1, Record at 17; that he had severe impairment of peripheral neuropathy status-post left hand injury, Finding 3, id. at 18; that he had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), except that he could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, could perform occasional handling and fingering (left hand restriction only), should avoid work around hazards, including machinery, and should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, which would exacerbate his pain and numbness, Finding 5, id.; that, considering his age (30 years old, defined as a younger individual, on his alleged disability onset date, April 15, 2009), education (at least high school), work experience (transferable skills), and RFC, there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy that he could perform, Findings 7-10, id. at 21-22; and that he, therefore, had not been disabled from April 15, 2009, through the date of the decision, July 17, 2013, Finding 11, id. at 23. The Appeals Council declined to review the decision, id. at 1-3, making the decision the final determination of the commissioner, 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481; Dupuis v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 869 F.2d 622, 623 (1st Cir. 1989).

The standard of review of the commissioner's decision is whether the determination made is supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3); Manso-Pizarro v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 76 F.3d 15, 16 (1st Cir. 1996). In other words, the determination must be supported by such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support the conclusion drawn. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Rodriguez v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981).

The administrative law judge reached Step 5 of the sequential evaluation process, at which stage the burden of proof shifts to the commissioner to show that a claimant can perform work other than his past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g), 416.920(g); Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987); Goodermote, 690 F.2d at 7. The record must contain substantial evidence in support of the commissioner's findings regarding the plaintiff's RFC to perform such other work. Rosado v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 807 F.2d 292, 294 (1st Cir. 1986).

I. Discussion

A. Refusal To Admit Late-Tendered Evidence

At the outset of the plaintiff's June 11, 2013, hearing, the administrative law judge noted that a great deal of material had been submitted within the previous five days. See Record at 31. The cover letter transmitting those materials is not of record; however, the plaintiff later described it as follows: "In the cover letter to the [administrative law] judge, counsel said that the record[s] were received on June 10 (the day before the hearing), and submitted on the same day, suggesting that the late submission was unavoidable." Id. at 337.

At hearing, the administrative law judge asked the plaintiff's counsel, "Maybe you know the story of what some of that is?" Id. at 31. The plaintiff's attorney responded:

We had some difficulty getting those records. They did come in and we made the determination to send them.... [S]ome of them are more recent, but we had some difficulty getting those records.

Id. The administrative law judge commented, "I did not anticipate admitting them, but certainly I will look at them and evaluate them in terms of the whole." Id. at 32. In his decision, the administrative law judge stated that he declined to admit the late-tendered evidence on the basis that the requirements of 20 C.F.R. § 405.331(b) "are not met." Id. at 15. He did not elaborate. See id.

Section 331(a) provides that a claimant "must submit any written evidence no later than 5 business days before the date of the scheduled hearing." 20 C.F.R. § 405.331(a). If he does not, "[t]he administrative law judge may decline to consider the evidence unless the circumstances described in paragraphs (b) or (c) of this section apply." Id.

Paragraph (b) provides:

If [a claimant] miss[es] the deadline described in paragraph (a) of this section and [he] wish[es] to submit evidence during the five business days before the hearing or at the hearing, the administrative law judge ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.