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.

Nunez v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

February 13, 2018

BELINDA NUNEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          JULIE S. SNEED, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Belinda Nunez, seeks judicial review of the denial of her claims for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. As the Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) decision was based on substantial evidence and employed proper legal standards, the decision is affirmed.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits in July 2012. (Tr. 153-54.) The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's claims both initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 66-91, 94-99, 101-06.) Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing. (Tr. 107.) Upon Plaintiff's request, the ALJ held a hearing at which Plaintiff appeared and testified. (Tr. 31-65.) Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding Plaintiff not disabled and accordingly denied Plaintiff's claims for benefits. (Tr. 10-30.) On Plaintiff's appeal, the court remanded the matter. (Tr. 1377-83.) After holding a second hearing on remand (Tr. 1243-84), the ALJ issued a partially-favorable decision, finding Plaintiff not disabled prior to August 12, 2013, but disabled from August 12, 2013, through February 26, 2014. (Tr. 1214-42.) Plaintiff then timely filed a complaint with this Court. (Dkt. 1.) The case is now ripe for review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3).

         B. Factual Background and the ALJ's Decision

          Plaintiff, who was born in 1961, claimed disability beginning on June 1, 2011. (Tr. 66.) Plaintiff has a high school education. (Tr. 1231.) Plaintiff's past relevant work experience included work as a small business owner. (Tr. 1232.) Plaintiff alleged disability due to tremors, overheating and falling down, diabetes, depression, restless leg syndrome, high blood pressure, underactive thyroid, high cholesterol, a paralyzed vocal cord, and issues with her stomach, colon, and ovaries. (Tr. 66.)

         In rendering the decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had not performed substantial gainful activity since June 1, 2011, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 1220.) After conducting a hearing and reviewing the evidence of record, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus with occasional neuropathy, migraine headaches, obesity, arthritis of the right knee, depression, and bowel disorder, and that “[b]eginning on the established onset date of disability, August 12, 2013, through February 26, 2014, the claimant has also had the following additional severe impairment: right eye blindness.” (Tr. 1221.) Notwithstanding the noted impairments, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 1222-24.) The ALJ then concluded that Plaintiff retained the following residual functional capacity (“RFC”) prior to August 12, 2013:

I find that prior to August 12, 2013, the date the claimant became disabled, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except lifting up to 20 pounds occasionally, lift and carry 10 pounds frequently, but stand and walk for about 2 hours, sitting for up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, with normal breaks, but any continuous walking or standing should be done in increments of no more than 15 minutes and with the use of a cane; no climbing ropes or scaffolds or 5 steps or more on a ladder, but can occasionally climb lesser ladders, ramps and stairs; no crawling; occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch; occasionally operate foot controls; frequently reach, handle, and finger bilaterally; should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold and extreme heat; avoid even moderate (more than occasional) exposure to excessive noise, excessive vibration, and industrial hazards such as the use of hazardous machinery and unprotected heights; and the claimant retains the ability to understand, remember, and carry out simple and detailed tasks and instructions, but not complex tasks and instructions.

(Tr. 1224.) In formulating Plaintiff's RFC for this period, the ALJ considered Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined that, although the evidence established the presence of underlying impairments that reasonably could be expected to produce the symptoms alleged, Plaintiff's statements as to the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of her symptoms were not fully credible. (Tr. 1225-26.)

         Next, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff retained the following RFC beginning on August 12, 2013, through February 26, 2014:

I find that beginning on August 12, 2013, through February 26, 2014 (the day before the claimant was found disabled on the subsequent application), the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except lifting up to 20 pounds occasionally, lift and carry 10 pounds frequently, but stand and walk for about 2 hours, sitting for up to 6 hours in an 8hour workday, with normal breaks, but any continuous walking or standing should be done in increments of no more than 15 minutes and with the use of a cane; no climbing ropes or scaffolds or 5 steps or more on a ladder, but can occasionally climb lesser ladders, ramps and stairs; no crawling; occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch; occasionally operate foot controls; frequently reach, handle, and finger bilaterally; should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold and extreme heat; avoid even moderate (more than occasional) exposure to excessive noise, excessive vibration, and industrial hazards such as the use of hazardous machinery and unprotected heights; and the claimant retains the ability to understand, remember, and carry out simple and detailed tasks and instructions, but not complex tasks and instructions. Lastly, the claimant has less than frequent near acuity.

(Tr. 1230-31.)

         Considering Plaintiff's noted impairments and the assessment of a vocational expert (“VE”), however, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could not perform her past relevant work. (Tr. 1231.) Given Plaintiff's background, RFC, and the VE's testimony, the ALJ concluded that prior to August 12, 2013, Plaintiff could perform other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, such as a customer service representative and telemarketer. (Tr. 1232.) He concluded, however, that Plaintiff would not be able to perform these jobs or any other existing in the national economy beginning on August 12, 2013, “the date when the evidence shows that the claimant became blind in her right eye.” (Tr. 1233.) Accordingly, the ALJ found ...


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.