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Chiappini v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division

March 27, 2017

ANTONI WILLIAM CHIAPPINI, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION[1]

          PHILIP R. LAMMENS United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff appeals the administrative decision denying his application for Social Security Income (''SSI"). Upon a review of the record, the memoranda, and the applicable law, I submit that the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed.

         I. Background

         On December 13, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI, alleging disability beginning June 10.1989. (Tr. 176). The claim was denied initially, and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 76-119). At Plaintiffs request, a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Douglas A. Walker ("ALJ"), who then issued a notice of unfavorable decision, finding Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 16-75).

         At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date. (Tr. 21). At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: hearing loss, anxiety disorder, and bipolar II disorder. (Tr. 21).

         At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or a combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 21-28). Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform less than the full range of medium work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §416.967(c):

The claimant requires work which is simple and unskilled, or low semi-skilled in nature, which are tasks performed so frequently as to be considered routine, even though the tasks themselves might be considered simple (work with a Specific Vocational Preparation (S VP) code of three or below). The claimant can lift or carry twenty-five pounds frequently, and fifty pounds occasionally. The claimant can stand and/or walk for a total of six hours in an eight-hour workday. The claimant can sit for a total of six hours in an eight-hour workday. The claimant should avoid frequent ascending and descending of stairs. The claimant should avoid hazards in the workplace and should be restricted to a "relatively clean" work environment (low levels of pollutants and stable temperatures). The claimant can perform each of the following postural activities occasionally, balancing, stooping, crouching, kneeling, and crawling, but not the climbing of ropes or scaffolds, and of ladders exceeding six feet. The claimant has non-exertional mental limitations which substantially affect his ability to concentrate upon complex or detailed tasks, but he would remain capable of understanding, remembering, carrying out job instructions as defined earlier, and he can make work related judgments and decisions, he can respond appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and work situations, and he can deal with changes in a routine work setting. The claimant should avoid stressful situations such as working with co-workers in a team, and working directly with the public (although there may be some indirect contact). The claimant should avoid working in an environment where he would have frequent interpersonal interaction or discussion that is required with co-workers outside the normal workplace banter: The individual should work in an environment where he makes few decisions and uses little judgment. The claimant has left sided deafness, but his right-sided hearing is normal, and the claimant has no difficulties in hearing normal conversation.

(Tr. 28-36). At step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has no past relevant work. (Tr. 37).

         At step five, however, the ALJ found that considering Plaintiffs age, education, work experience, and RFC, there are unskilled jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the Plaintiff can perform-tagger, electrode cleaner, silver wrapper, laundry sorter. (Tr. 37-38). Thus the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled since December 13, 2012. (Tr. 38).

         Then, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for review, making the hearing decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-7). With his administrative remedies exhausted, Plaintiff filed the instant appeal. (Doc. 1).

         II. Standard of Review

         A claimant is entitled to disability benefits when he is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which can be expected to either result in death or last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months. 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i)(1), 423(d)(1)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a).

         The Commissioner has established a five-step sequential analysis for evaluating a claim of disability, which is by now well-known and otherwise set forth in the ALJ's decision. See 20 CFR §§ 404.1520(a), 416.920(a); see also Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th Cir. 2001). The claimant, of course, bears the burden of persuasion through step four and, at step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n. 5 (1987).

         The scope of this Court's review is limited to a determination of whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and whether the findings are supported by substantial evidence. McRoberts v. Bowen, 841 F.2d 1077, 1080 (11th Cir. 1988) (citing Richardson v. Perales,402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971)). Indeed, the Commissioner's findings of fact are conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla-i.e., the evidence must do more than merely create a suspicion of the existence of a fact, and must include such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support the conclusion. Foote v. Chater,67 F.3d 1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995) (citing Walden v. Schweiker, 672 F.2d 835, 838 (11th Cir. 1982) and Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401); accord Edwards v. Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580, 584 n.3 (11th Cir. 1991). Where the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, the District Court will affirm, even if the reviewer would have reached ...


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