United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Keith W. Oswald, Plaintiff,
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
E. Osterhout, Esq., Osterhout Disability Law, LLC, and Edward
C. Olson, Esq., Attorney at Law, counsel for Plaintiff.
Gregory G. Brooker, Esq., United States Attorney's
Office, counsel for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. THORSON, United States Magistrate Judge.
W. Oswald seeks judicial review of the Commissioner of Social
Security's final decision denying his application for
disability insurance benefits. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This
matter is before the Court on the parties' cross-motions
for summary judgment. D. Minn. LR 7.2(c)(1). For the reasons
stated below, the Court concludes the Administrative Law
Judge's decision is supported by substantial evidence in
the record. Therefore, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment is denied and Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment is granted.
Keith W. Oswald, filed a Title II application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and a Title XVI
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) on September 20, 2011, alleging a
disability onset date of June 1, 2010. (Tr. 181,
187.)Plaintiff's claims were denied
initially on April 13, 2012, and upon reconsideration on
November 9, 2012. (Tr. 97, 112.) Plaintiff requested a
hearing, which was held on February 26, 2014. (Tr. 39.) The
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) issued a
decision denying Plaintiff's claims on July 18, 2014.
(Tr. 11-33.) On October 7, 2014, the Appeals Council denied
review, making the ALJ's July 18, 2014 decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-6); see 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
December 3, 2015, Plaintiff timely filed this action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking review of the final
decision of the Commissioner. (Doc. No. 1.) The parties filed
cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to D. Minn. LR
7.2(c). (Doc. Nos. 16, 18.) Plaintiff argues that the ALJ
erred by discounting the opinions of an examining
consultative psychologist and a non-examining state agency
psychologist. (Doc. No. 17, Def.'s Mem. 4-19.) Defendant
asks the Court to affirm the Commissioner's decision
because the ALJ properly addressed those opinions, and the
denial of benefits is supported by substantial evidence.
(Doc. No. 19, Def.'s Mem. 7-13.)
was forty-three years old on June 1, 2010, his alleged onset
410.) He graduated from high school and was in the United
States Army from 1985 until 1989, stationed at Fort Bragg in
North Carolina. (Tr. 213, 406.) While in the Army, he
completed a metal working course, and then received a general
discharge. (Tr. 214, 406.) He worked as a carpet installer
from 1985 to 2008; a small engine mechanic/repairman from
1985 to 2010; and a welder/assembler from 2005 to 2007. (Tr.
214, 232.) Plaintiff also worked intermittently as a cook.
(Id.) Plaintiff's last job was as a part-time
stir fry cook at a Chinese restaurant. (Tr. 302.) He left
that job due to an anxiety attack in October 2013. (Tr. 44,
61.) Since September 2011, Plaintiff has lived in an
apartment in Hibbing, Minnesota. (Tr. 43.)
The ALJ's Findings and Decision
decision dated July 18, 2014, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was not disabled as defined by the Social Security Act and
denied Plaintiff's application for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 33.)
The ALJ proceeded through the five-step evaluation process
provided in the social security regulations. See 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). These steps are as follows: (1)
whether the claimant is presently engaged in
“substantial gainful activity”; (2) whether the
claimant is severely impaired; (3) whether the impairment
meets or equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed
in the regulations; (4) whether the claimant can perform past
relevant work; and, if not, (5) whether the claimant can
perform other jobs available in sufficient numbers in the
national economy. Id. § 404.1520(a)-(f).
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since June 1, 2010, the alleged
onset date. (Tr. 13.) At step two, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: spine
impairment with radiculopathy status post 2010 fusion;
degenerative joint disease; right shoulder impairment;
residual pain status post bilateral knee surgeries; chronic
pain syndrome; vertigo; affective mood disorder; anxiety
disorders; somatic dysfunction; attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder; and a history of alcohol abuse.
(Id.) The ALJ concluded that the following
impairments or conditions were non-severe: carpal tunnel
syndrome; bilateral arm numbness; right epicondylitis (tennis
elbow); obesity; smoking; right finger soft tissue injury;
shingles; sinus bradycardia; hypertension; and headaches.
(Tr. 13-15.) The ALJ reasoned that these impairments
“were not shown to result in more than minimal
interference with ...