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Fedarko v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

September 24, 2013

BRIAN FEDARKO, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM H. BAUGHMAN, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

Introduction

This is an action for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying the applications of the plaintiff, Brian Fedarko, for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. The parties have consented to magistrate judge's jurisdiction.

The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), whose decision became the final decision of the Commissioner, found that Fedarko had severe impairments consisting of bipolar disorder (not otherwise specified), depressive disorder (not otherwise specified), anxiety disorder (not otherwise specified), post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"), and personality disorder.[1] The ALJ determined that Fedarko did not have an impairment that met or equaled any of the listings in Appendix 1 of the regulations.[2] The ALJ made the following finding regarding Fedarko's residual functional capacity:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform less than a full range of medium work with the following limitations: the claimant can lift and carry 30 pounds frequently and can carry 31 to 80 pounds occasionally; he can sit stand and walk 6 hours each out of an 8 hour day; he has no limitations on pushing or pulling or manipulative abilities; he is able to operate hand and foot controls; he is able to drive a motor vehicle and travel; he is able to climb stairs; the claimant's speech, hearing, memory, orientation, and attention are within normal range; he is able to understand, remember, and carry out simple tasks at an adequate persistence and pace; he is capable of interacting socially on a very infrequent and casual basis; he can work well independently; he can work in an environment with clear expectations and little changes in routine.[3]

Given that residual functional capacity, the ALJ found Fedarko capable of his past relevant work as a failure analyst and a screen printer and, therefore, not under a disability.[4]

Based on an answer to a hypothetical question posed to the vocational expert at the hearing setting forth the residual functional capacity finding quoted above, the ALJ made an alternative finding that a significant number of jobs existed locally and nationally that Fedarko could perform, further supporting the no disability decision.[5]

Fedarko asks for reversal of the Commissioner's decision on the ground that it does not have the support of substantial evidence in the administrative record. He presents two specific issues for review:

• The ALJ found that Fedarko's migraine headaches did not constitute a severe impairment at step two. Does substantial evidence support this finding?
• In finding that Fedarko's impairments did not meet or equal a listing at step three, the ALJ did not analyze or otherwise acknowledge the equivalency of Fedarko's migraine headaches to Listing § 11.03, relating to epilepsy. Did the ALJ commit reversible error by failing to perform and articulate about this analysis?

The Court concludes that the ALJ's finding of no disability is supported by substantial evidence and, therefore, must be affirmed.

Analysis

1. Standard of review

The Sixth Circuit in Buxton v. Halter reemphasized the standard of review applicable to decisions of ...


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