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.

Langley v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Maine

December 29, 2016

BART LANGLEY, Plaintiff
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDED DECISION [1]

          John H. Rich III United States Magistrate Judge

         This Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) appeal raises the questions of whether the administrative law judge erred in finding that the plaintiff's impairment did not meet a Listing, in failing to list as an exhibit a particular doctor's report, and in filing to address limitations identified by a treating source. I recommend that the court affirm the commissioner's decision.

         In accordance with the commissioner's sequential evaluation process, 20 C.F.R. § 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 suffered from degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, osteoarthritis of the right hip, depression, and anxiety, impairments that were severe, but which did not, considered separately or in combination, meet or medically equal the criteria of any impairment listed in Appendix 1 to 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P (the “Listings”), Findings 2-3, Record at 14; that he had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work, except that he needed to stand for 5 minutes hourly between normal breaks, could never kneel, crawl, or climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, could occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, and crouch, must avoid unprotected heights and irregular or sloping work surfaces, and could understand, remember, and carry out simple, repetitive instructions, Finding 4, id. at 16; that he could not return to any past relevant work, Finding 5, id. at 20; that, considering his age (45 years old on the date he filed his application for benefits, March 16, 2012, education (at least high school), work experience, and RFC, there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy that he could perform, Findings 6-9, id., and that he, therefore, had not been disabled from the date of his application through the date of the decision, August 18, 2014, Finding 10, id. at 21. 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. § 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. § 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. § 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).

         The statement of errors also implicates Step 3 of the sequential evaluation process, at which step a claimant bears the burden of proving that his impairment or combination of impairments meets or equals a listing. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(d); Dudley v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 816 F.2d 792, 793 (1st Cir. 1987). To meet a listing, the claimant's impairment(s) must satisfy all criteria of that listing, including required objective medical findings. 20 C.F.R. § 416.925(c)(3). To equal a listing, the claimant's impairment(s) must be “at least equal in severity and duration to the criteria of any listed impairment.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.926(a).

         I. Discussion

         A. Step 3 Issues

         1. Listing 1.04(A)

         The plaintiff first faults the administrative law judge for failing to find that his degenerative disc disease met the criteria of Listing 1.04. Plaintiff's Itemized Statement of Specific Errors (“Itemized Statement”) (ECF No. 13) at 2-5. That Listing, for disorders of the spine, requires that the claimant produce specific medical evidence of nerve root compression, spinal arachnoiditis confirmed by operative note or pathology report, or lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication. The plaintiff contends that he should have been found to meet the first alternative. Itemized Statement at 2-3.

         Listing 1.04(A) requires that the nerve root compression be characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, atrophy with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising tests both sitting and supine. The administrative law judge said the following about this Listing:

The claimant's degenerative disc disease is considered under listing 1.04 for disorders of the spine. Listing 1.04 is satisfied when there is evidence of a disorder of the spine or spinal cord, to include degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis, with nerve root compression accompanied by sensory or reflex loss, or spinal arachnoiditis, or lumbar spinal stenosis. There is radiological evidence of degenerative disc disease, but no evidence of nerve root compression, spinal arachnoiditis or stenosis. Thus, when considered individually or in combination with the others, this impairment does not meet or medically equal a listed impairment.

Record at 15.

         The plaintiff asserts that there is evidence of possible nerve root impingement in an MRI performed in 2012, “evidence of deficiencies of lumbar range of motion, pain distribution and positive straight-leg raising” in the record, and that this evidence renders the administrative law judge's conclusion ...


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.