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LeeAnthony C. v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 10, 2019

LeeAnthony C., Plaintiff,
v.
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          James H. Greeman, Greeman Toomey, (for Plaintiff)

          James D. Sides, Special Assistant United States Attorney, (for Defendant).

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Tony N. Leung United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff LeeAnthony C. challenges Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's denial of his application for supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381. This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. These motions have been referred to the undersigned for a report and recommendation to the district court, the Honorable Nancy E. Brasel, District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, under 28 U.S.C. § 636 and D. Minn. LR 72.1. For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends that Plaintiff's motion be denied and that Defendant's motion be granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed an action for SSI on September 18, 2015, alleging a disability onset date of September 15, 2012.[1] Plaintiff alleged impairments of chronic left knee pain, memory loss, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Plaintiff was found not disabled on December 23, 2015. That finding was affirmed upon reconsideration. Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. A hearing was held on September 20, 2017 and, on October 3, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's claim for benefits. Plaintiff sought review of the ALJ's decision through the Appeals Council, which denied his request for review. Plaintiff now seeks review by this Court.

         B. Administrative Hearing and ALJ Decision

         The ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe impairment: borderline intellectual functioning versus mild cognitive brain disorder related to traumatic brain injury. (Tr. 19). The ALJ further found and concluded that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1. (Tr. 23-26). The ALJ considered Listings 12.02 (neurocognitive disorders) and 12.05 (intellectual disorder). Following this, the ALJ found Plaintiff to have the residual functioning capacity (“RFC”) “to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: may perform only simple routine tasks.” (Tr. 26). The ALJ then concluded that Plaintiff was capable of performing past relevant work as a warehouse worker and that there were jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 33-34). In particular, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could work as a hand packager, hospital cleaner, and laundry worker II. (Tr. 34). Accordingly, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled since September 18, 2015. (Tr. 34).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard

         Disability benefits are available to individuals who are determined to be under a disability. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(a)(1), 1381a; accord 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.315, 416.901. An individual is considered to be disabled if he or she is unable “to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a). This standard is met when a severe physical or mental impairment, or impairments, renders the individual unable to do his or her previous work or “any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy” when taking into account his or her age, education, and work experience. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(B); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a). Disability is determined according to a five-step, sequential evaluation process. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). The ALJ must consider whether:

(1) the claimant was employed; (2) she was severely impaired; (3) her impairment was, or was comparable to, a listed impairment; (4) she could perform past relevant work; and if not, (5) ...

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