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Duvall v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

January 8, 2020

JASON MICHAEL DUVALL, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KIMBERLY A. JOLSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Jason Michael Duvall, filed this action seeking review of a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II. The parties in this matter consented to the Undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Docs. 6, 8). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (Doc. 12) is OVERRULED, and judgment is entered in favor of Defendant.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Prior Proceedings

         Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits on July 6, 2016 under Title II, alleging disability beginning on November 7, 2015. (Doc. 9, Tr. 152-58). His application was denied initially and again on reconsideration, and after a hearing held on August 29, 2018 (Tr. 35-57), Administrative Law Judge Kevin Plunkett (the “ALJ”) issued an unfavorable decision. (Tr. 15-23). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review making the ALJ's decision the final decision for purposes of judicial review. (Tr. 1-6).

         Plaintiff filed this action on June 4, 2019 (Doc. 1), and the Commissioner filed the administrative record on August 13, 2019 (Doc. 9). Plaintiff filed a Statement of Specific Errors (Doc. 12), and the Commissioner responded (Doc. 14). No. reply was filed.

         B. Relevant Medical Background

         Plaintiff's statement of errors concerns his alleged physical impairments, particularly his spinal impairments. The ALJ helpfully summarized the relevant evidence:

An MRI of the claimant's left hip was done on August 12, 2015 (1F/2). This showed unremarkable findings of the left hip.
An MRI of the lumbar spine was performed on August 13, 2015 (1F/1). This demonstrated protrusions of disc material at L4-5 and L5-S1 levels, greater in degree at L4-5.
Electrodiagnostic testing was performed on November 16, 2015 (3F/1). The results indicated left S1 radiculopathy without significant axonal loss.
The claimant underwent lumbar surgery for L4-5 to L5-S1 decompression on February 23, 2016 (6F/7; 12F/20-22).
An Outpatient PT Progress Report dated May 19, 2016 indicated that the claimant was experiencing increased pain in the left lower extremity; decreased strength in core, low back, and bilateral lower extremities; decreased range of motion of the lumbar spine, and decreased sensation in the left lower extremity. The claimant's physical therapist reported that the claimant was unable to complete most physical therapy activities secondary to pain (4F).
An MRI of the lumbar spine was done on June 15, 2016 (5F/1-2). This indicated postsurgical changes on the left side at L4-5; enhancing soft tissue intensity of the left side; and ...

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