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Davis v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton

July 19, 2018

DARREL D. DAVIS, Plaintiff,

          Walter H. Rice District Judge


          Sharon L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Darrel D. Davis brings this case challenging the Social Security Administration's denial of his applications for Social Security benefits. He applied for period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income in December 2013, asserting that he could no longer work due to a learning disorder, anger issues, lack of patience, problems with his right ankle, high blood pressure, and a double hernia. The Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's claims initially and upon reconsideration. At Plaintiff's request, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Eric Anschuetz conducted a hearing where both Plaintiff and a vocational expert testified. Shortly thereafter, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not eligible for benefits because he is not under a “disability” as defined in the Social Security Act.

         Plaintiff seeks a remand of this case for payment of benefits or, at a minimum, for further proceedings. The Commissioner asks the Court to affirm ALJ Anschuetz's non-disability decision.

         The case is presently before the Court upon Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (Doc. #8), the Commissioner's Memorandum in Opposition (Doc. #10), Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. #11), the administrative record (Doc. #7), and the record as a whole.

         II. Plaintiff's Background

         Plaintiff asserts that he has been under a “disability” since June 30, 2013. He was forty-one years old at that time and was therefore considered a “younger person” under Social Security Regulations. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563(c), 416.963(c). He has a limited education. See Id. §§ 404.1564(b)(3), 416.964(b)(3).[2]

         At his administrative hearing before ALJ Anschuetz, Plaintiff testified that he only went to school through the ninth grade because he “just kept having problems and just [gave] up on it.” (Doc. #7, PageID #90). He was “always in trouble” and “was always getting into stuff, fights and getting suspended ….” Id. He was in special education classes and has been “made fun of all my life about being in the little short classes and riding the bus.” Id. at 108, 111. He never obtained a GED. Id. at 90.

         Although Plaintiff lives in a house by himself, he explained that he has never really lived independently because people are always checking in on him. Id. at 102, 109-10. His girlfriend, sister, and brother each give him money and his girlfriend pays his bills. Id. at 101, 109. During a typical day, Plaintiff gets up and eats a sandwich and watches television. Id. at 98. He “sometimes” does laundry but does not do dishes. Id. at 99. He uses his girlfriend's computer to play games and he has a cell phone to call family. Id. at 96-97. His girlfriend signed him up for a Facebook account and he “sometimes” uses it. Id. at 97.

         Plaintiff has a driver's license and drives “[e]veryday if I have to.” Id. at 106-07. He drives to the store or his girlfriend's house. Id. at 107. He struggled to obtain a driver's license. He needed to take the oral exam four times before passing. Id. at 108.

         Plaintiff's past work is varied. He worked as tow-truck operator for a few companies. Id. at 91-92. He also worked for a parts store and mowed grass for the City of Dayton. Id. at 92-93. He was terminated from most or all of them for absenteeism and/or poor performance. Id. at 92. Specifically, he was unable to keep up with the work demands and did not work or learn fast enough. Id. at 92-93.

         II. The ALJ's Decision

         As noted previously, it fell to ALJ Anschuetz to evaluate the evidence connected to Plaintiff's applications for benefits. He did so by considering each of the sequential steps set forth in the Social Security Regulations. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. He reached the following main conclusions:

Step 1: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful employment since January 1, 2019.
Step 2: He has the severe impairments of status post open reduction and internal fixation of a right ankle fracture in 2000; anxiety disorder; borderline intellectual functioning, and obesity.
Step 3: He does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or equals the severity of one in the Commissioner's Listing of Impairments, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
Step 4: His residual functional capacity, or the most he could do despite his impairments, see Howard v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 276 F.3d 235, 239 (6th Cir. 2002), consists of “less for the full range of medium work …. Specifically, [Plaintiff] can lift and carry up to 50 pounds occasionally and up to 25 pounds frequently. He can stand and/or walk a total of six hours during an eight-hour workday. He can sit for six hours during the workday. He can only use his right lower extremity for occasional pushing and pulling. However, he has no problem driving a motor vehicle. He can occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds, but he can frequently climb ramps and stairs. His ability to balance and stoop is unlimited. He can frequently kneel, crouch, and crawl. He is limited to performing simple, routine, repetitive tasks, but not at a production rate pace. He can have frequent interaction with supervisors.”
Step 4: He is unable to perform any of his past relevant work.
Step 5: He could perform a significant number of jobs that exist in the national economy.

(Doc. #7, PageID #s 63-74). These main findings led the ALJ to ultimately conclude that Plaintiff was not under a benefits-qualifying disability. Id. at 74.

         IV. Stand ...

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