Ragland v. Colvin
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) (PLEASE SEE MEMORANDUM FOR COMPLETE DETAILS). Signed by Honorable William J. Nealon on 3/3/17. (lh)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
On October 1, 2015, Plaintiff, Gary Ragland, filed this instant appeal1 under
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for review of the decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (“SSA”) denying his application for disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1461, et
seq. (Doc. 1). The parties have fully briefed the appeal. For the reasons set forth
below, the decision of the Commissioner denying Plaintiff’s application for DIB
will be affirmed.
1. Under the Local Rules of Court “[a] civil action brought to review a decision of
the Social Security Administration denying a claim for social security disability
benefits” is “adjudicated as an appeal.” M.D. Pa. Local Rule 83.40.1.
Plaintiff protectively filed2 his application for DIB on August 4, 2012,
alleging disability beginning on November 29, 2011, due to a combination of
sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, blindness in his right eye, limited reading and
writing skills, glaucoma, constant pain in his back and legs, and shortness of
breath. (Tr. 10, 140, 143).3 The claim was initially denied by the Bureau of
Disability Determination (“BDD”)4 on March 28, 2013. (Tr. 10). On April 10,
2013, Plaintiff filed a written request for a hearing before an administrative law
judge. (Tr. 10). A hearing was held on August 15, 2014, before administrative
law judge Patrick Cutter, (“ALJ”), at which Plaintiff and an impartial vocational
expert Paul Anderson, (“VE”), testified. (Tr. 10). On August 29, 2014, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff’s application for DIB. (Tr. 10).
On October 22, 2014, Plaintiff filed a request for review with the Appeals Council.
2. Protective filing is a term for the first time an individual contacts the Social
Security Administration to file a claim for benefits. A protective filing date allows
an individual to have an earlier application date than the date the application is
3. References to “(Tr. )” are to pages of the administrative record filed by
Defendant as part of the Answer on December 21, 2015. (Doc. 9).
4. The Bureau of Disability Determination is an agency of the state which initially
evaluates applications for disability insurance benefits on behalf of the Social
(Tr. 6). On August 21, 2015, the Appeals Council concluded that there was no
basis upon which to grant Plaintiff’s request for review. (Tr. 1-3). Thus, the
ALJ’s decision stood as the final decision of the Commissioner.
Plaintiff filed the instant complaint on October 1, 2015. (Doc. 1). On
December 21, 2015, Defendant filed an answer and transcript from the SSA
proceedings. (Docs. 8 and 9). Plaintiff filed a brief in support of his complaint on
January 29, 2016. (Doc. 11). Defendant filed a brief in opposition on March 3,
2016. (Doc. 15). Plaintiff filed a reply brief on March 9, 2016. (Doc. 16).
Plaintiff was born in the United States on October 30, 1961, and at all times
relevant to this matter was considered an “individual closely approaching
advanced age.”5 (Tr. 140). Plaintiff did not graduate from high school or obtain
his GED, but can communicate in English. (Tr. 142, 144). His employment
records indicate that he previously worked as a manufacturing assembler, laborer,
and roofer. (Tr. 145).
In a document entitled “Function Report - Adult” filed with the SSA on
August 23, 2012, Plaintiff indicated that he lived in a house with family. (Tr.
5. “Person closely approaching advanced age. If you are closely approaching
advanced age (age 50-54), we will consider that your age along with a severe
impairment(s) and limited work experience may seriously affect your ability to
adjust to other work.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d).
158). When asked how his injuries, illnesses, or conditions limited his ability to
work, Plaintiff stated, “have trouble standing or walking with legs, feet, trouble
breathing.” (Tr. 158). From the time he woke up until he went to bed, Plaintiff
watched television. (Tr. 159). Plaintiff had no problems with personal care,
prepared meals such as sandwiches daily for five (5) minutes, did not perform
chores in his house or yard, and shopped for groceries when necessary for five (5)
minutes. (Tr. 159-161). He went outside two (2) times a week, was able to drive a
car, and was able to go out alone. (Tr. 160). His hobbies included watching
television, and he did not spend time with others. (Tr. 162). He could walk for
fifty (50) feet before needing to rest for five (5) minutes. (Tr. 163). When asked
to check what activities his illnesses, injuries, or conditions affected, Plaintiff did
not check squatting, bending, reaching, sitting, kneeling, talking, hearing, seeing,
memory, concentration, understanding, following instructions, using hands, or
getting along with others. (Tr. 163).
Regarding his concentration and memory, Plaintiff did not need special
reminders to take care of his personal needs, take his medicine, or go places. (Tr.
159, 162). He could count change and handle a savings account, but could not pay
bills or use a checkbook due to trouble reading and keeping track of his
checkbook. (Tr. 161). He could not pay attention for long, was not able to finish
what he started, did not follow written instructions well due to trouble reading and
writing, followed spoken instructions “good,” handled stress “fairly,” and handled
changes in routine “not very good.” (Tr. 163-164).
Plaintiff also completed a Supplemental Function Questionnaire for pain.
(Tr. 166). He stated that his pain began about five (5) years prior, and stated he
had pain and burning sensation in his feet and legs. (Tr. 166). He stated standing
and walking caused him to have pain, that his pain was worse at the end of the day
and throughout the night, that it occurred every day, that it was not relieved by
medication, and that he had never attended physical therapy. (Tr. 166-167).
At the oral hearing on August 15, 2014, Plaintiff initially testified that what
kept him from working were shortness of breath and pain in his legs. (Tr. 31). He
stated that he was also blink in his right eye, had glaucoma, and smoked a pack of
cigarettes a day. (Tr. 32). He testified that the pain in his legs and feet was a
burning sensation that cause his legs to give out on him. (Tr. 35-36). He stated
that he was able to drive a car, which he did about twice a week and did not need
glasses to do. (Tr. 32-34). He testified that he was about to walk about twentyfive (25) feet before needing to rest to catch his breath and was able to stand up for
ten (10) minutes before needing to sit because his legs and feet would swell. (Tr.
Out of an abundance of caution, all medical records provided in the
Transcript have been reviewed, even those past the date last insured of December
On August 20, 2012, Paul Heavner, OD, wrote a letter that Plaintiff had not
been seen in his office, Bergman Eye Associates, since October 2008. (Tr. 190).
On September 24, 2012, Plaintiff underwent a consultative examination
performed by Amatul Khalid, MD. (Tr. 191). It was noted that Plaintiff had lefteye glaucoma diagnosed one (1) year prior for which he had not been using the
drops prescribed, did not have blurry or double vision, was blind in his right eye,
self-diagnosed himself with sleep apnea because he woke up gasping for air, had
burning in his feet, experienced shortness of breath with minimal activity, and
could “only walk through Wal-Mart for a half an hour before having to sit.” (Tr.
191). It was also noted that he smoked half a pack of cigarettes a day for the past
thirty-five (35) years. (Tr. 191). His physical examination revealed the following:
without glasses, his vision was 20/30; his bilateral lungs were clear to
auscultation; a decreased range of motion in his lumbar spine; bilaterally increased
deep tendon reflexes in his brachiradialis and knees; abnormal vibratory sensation
that was impaired in his bilateral lower extremities from his ankle distally; and a
normal affect, judgment, and mental status. (Tr. 192-194). Plaintiff was assessed
as having peripheral neuropathy, glaucoma in his left eye with non-compliance
with his eye drops, legal blindness in his right eye, and tobacco abuse. (Tr. 194).
Dr. Khalid opined Plaintiff: could frequently lift up to fifty (50) pounds and carry
up to ten (10) pounds; could stand for one (1) hour or less in an eight (8) hour
workday; had no limitations with sitting; could engage in unlimited pushing and
pulling within the aforementioned weight restrictions; could frequently bend, and
occasionally kneel, stoop, crouch, balance, and climb; had limitations with
reaching and seeing; and should avoid temperature extremes and humidity. (Tr.
On October 5, 2012, Plaintiff underwent an x-ray of his lumbar spine for
back pain. (Tr. 199). The impression was that there was no fracture or dislocation
seen in the lumbar spine. (Tr. 199).
On November 27, 2012, Plaintiff had an appointment with Dr. Khalid for
another consultative examination. (Tr. 200). Dr. Khalid reiterated what was noted
during the first consultative examination, and added that Plaintiff had difficulty
with reading, some math problems, writing, spelling, and managing his finances.
(Tr. 200). His physical examination remained the same except for wheezing, and
the assessment remained the same except for the addition of learning difficulties.
On December 3, 2012, Plaintiff underwent a Pulmonary Function Test. (Tr.
206). The impression was that Plaintiff had a normal spirometry, lung volumes,
and diffusing capacity. (Tr. 206). In the section “PFT Quality Assurance
Statement,” it was noted that Plaintiff had a good ability to understand directions,
was alert and oriented, and gave good cooperation and effort. (Tr. 215).
On February 28, 2013, Plaintiff underwent a Clinical Psychological
Disability Evaluation with Individual Intellectual Evaluation and Achievement
Test performed by Joseph Levenstein, Ph.D. (Tr. 218). Dr. Levenstein noted
Plaintiff: was cooperative and rapport was easily established; had well-paced
speech that was difficulty to understand; gave short answers to his questions; had
a flexible affect appropriate to thought content; was unkempt; had a slightly
unsteady gait; and was well motivated, but required moderate amounts of praise
and encouragement to maintain motivation. (Tr. 218). His Mental Status
Examination noted Plaintiff: was alert and oriented in three spheres; had intact
appetite; was occasionally irritable; and denied symptoms of mania and OCD. (Tr.
221). His intelligence testing revealed “functioning ranging from the Average
range to the Mild range of intellectual disability. Overall, [Plaintiff] appears to be
functioning within the Borderline range of intelligence.” (Tr. 221). Dr.
Levenstein also noted that Plaintiff had: extremely limited verbal skills, working
memory, and processing; and limited information memory, academic skills, and
reading comprehension. (Tr. 222). Dr. Levenstein concluded that Plaintiff was
not functionally illiterate, could understand, retain, and follow simple instructions,
could sustain attention sufficiently to complete simple and repetitive tasks, had
social skills that were sufficient to interact appropriately with supervisors and
coworkers, and could perform activities of daily living on an independent basis
with the exception of reading and writing. (Tr. 222). Dr. Levenstein diagnosed
Plaintiff with a Reading Disorder, Disorder of written expression, and Borderline
Intellectual Functioning. (Tr. 222). His prognosis was unlikely to improve much
at all, especially in light of his physical problems. (Tr. 222). He also noted
Plaintiff was not capable of managing his personal funds in a competent manner.
(Tr. 223). Dr. Levenstein opined Plaintiff: (1) had slight limitations in
understanding, remembering, and carrying out short and simple instructions; (2)
had moderate limitations in making judgments on simple work-related decisions;
(3) had extreme limitations in understanding, remembering, and carrying out
detailed instructions; (4) had no limitations with responding appropriately to
supervision, co-workers or work pressures in a work setting; and (5) had
limitations with reading and writing with the effect of rendering him close to
illiterate. (Tr. 225-226).
On March 25, 2013, Monica Yeater, Psy.D., completed a Psychiatric
Review Technique. (Tr. 52). She opined, based on the record, that for Listing
12.02, Organic Mental Disorders, Plaintiff had: (1) mild restriction of activities of
daily living and in maintaining social functioning; (2) moderate difficulties in
maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; and (3) no repeated episodes of
decompensation, each of extended duration. (Tr. 52). Dr. Yeater also completed a
Mental Residual Functional Capacity Assessment, in which she opined Plaintiff
was: (1) moderately limited in his ability to understand and remember detailed
instructions, to carry out detailed instructions, to maintain attention and
concentration for extended periods, to perform activities within a schedule, to
maintain regular attendance, and to be punctual within customary tolerances; (2)
was limited to unskilled work; and (3) had no social interaction or adaptive
limitations. (Tr. 56-57).
On March 27, 2013, Dilip S. Kar, M.D., completed a Physical Residual
Functional Capacity assessment based on the record. (Tr. 54-56). He opined that
Plaintiff: (1) could occasionally lift and/ or carry up to twenty (20) pounds and
frequently lift and/ or carry up to ten (10) pounds; (2) could stand and/ or walk and
sit for six (6) hours in an eight (8) hour workday; (3) should avoid concentrated
exposure to extreme cold and heat, wetness, humidity, fumes, odors, dusts, gases,
and poor ventilation; and (4) should avoid all exposure to hazards such as
machinery and heights. (Tr. 54-55).
On May 3, 2013, Plaintiff had an appointment with James Owens, M.D. for
hypertension, shortness of breath on exertion, and paresthesias in his feet. (Tr.
256). It was noted that Plaintiff had slightly limited cognitive function. (Tr. 257).
On May 24, 2013, Plaintiff had an appointment with James Owens, M.D.
for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and hypertension. (Tr. 252). It was
noted that his blood pressure had improved, and that it was strongly suspected that
Plaintiff had COPD. (Tr. 252). He also reported that he had been experiencing
paresthesias in his feet. (Tr. 252).
On June 12, 2013, Plaintiff had an appointment with John Alencherry, M.D.
for a cough and dyspnea. (Tr. 242). A chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests
were ordered. (Tr. 243).
On June 12, 2013, Plaintiff underwent a chest x-ray. (Tr. 241). The
impression was that Plaintiff had mild hyperinflation in his lungs. (Tr. 241).
On July 19, 2013, Plaintiff underwent a Pulmonary Function Test. (Tr.
245). The impression was that Plaintiff had mild obstructive airway disease with
no significant component of reversible bronchospasms and decreased oxygenation.
(Tr. 245). Plaintiff was advised to cease smoking and comply with his inhaler
treatment. (Tr. 248).
On July 29, 2013, Plaintiff had a follow-up appointment with Dr.
Alencherry. (Tr. 247). He was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, and it was noted that he was still smoking cigarettes and was in poor
compliance with his inhalers. (Tr. 247).
On September 30, 2013, Plaintiff had an appointment with James Owens,
M.D. for bilateral leg and foot pain and hypertension. (Tr. 249). Plaintiff reported
that he had some parethesias of his feet with burning at times and that he was still
smoking cigarettes. (Tr. 249).
On April 14, 2014, Plaintiff had an appointment with Dr. Alencherry for
follow-up of COPD and cough and shortness of breath that Plaintiff described as
worsening. (Tr. 264). It was also noted that Plaintiff was poorly compliant with
treatment for his COPD. (Tr. 264). His physical examination was normal. (Tr.
264-265). Plaintiff was advised to quit smoking, and was scheduled for a followup in four (4) months. (Tr. 265). Plaintiff also underwent a chest x-ray which
showed mild right pleural effusion and hyperinflation of the lungs. (Tr. 267).
On April 16, 2014, Plaintiff underwent a venus Doppler of his bilateral
lower extremities. (Tr. 263). The impression was that there was no evidence of a
DVT in either lower extremity. (Tr. 263).
On July 18, 2014, Anne Rowland, CRNP, completed a Pulmonary Residual
Functional Capacity Questionnaire. (Tr. 270). She opined that due to his
pulmonary symptoms, Plaintiff: had occasional interference with attention and
concentration; was capable of low stress jobs; had an impairment that was stable
on current treatment of ProAir inhaler and was expected to last at least twelve (12)
months; could walk half a city block without rest or severe pain; could sit for more
than two (2) hours at a time and more than four (4) hours in an eight (8) hour
workday; could stand for ten (10) minutes at one time and for less than two (2)
hours in an eight (8) hour workday; needed to take fifteen (15) to twenty (20)
minute breaks during an eight (8) work shift; could occasionally lift and carry up
to ten (10) pounds, rarely lift and carry twenty (20) pounds, and never lift and
carry fifty (50) pounds; could frequently twist and stoop, occasionally crouch and
squat, rarely climb stairs, and never climb ladders; should avoid all exposure to
cigarette smoke, perfumes, soldering fluxes, solvents and cleaners, fumes, odors,
gases and chemicals; and should avoid even moderate exposure to extreme cold
and heat, high humidity, wetness, and dust; and would likely be absent from work
for about four (4) days per month. (Tr. 270-273). She noted that the earliest date
the symptoms and limitations from the questionnaire applied was June 12, 2013.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
When considering a social security appeal, the court has plenary review of
all legal issues decided by the Commissioner. See Poulos v. Commissioner of
Social Security, 474 F.3d 88, 91 (3d Cir. 2007); Schaudeck v. Commissioner of
Social Sec. Admin., 181 F.3d 429, 431 (3d Cir. 1999); Krysztoforski v. Chater, 55
F.3d 857, 858 (3d Cir. 1995). However, the court’s review of the Commissioner’s
findings of fact pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is to determine whether those
findings are supported by “substantial evidence.” Id.; Mason v. Shalala, 994 F.2d
1058, 1064 (3d Cir. 1993); Brown v. Bowen, 845 F.2d 1211, 1213 (3d Cir. 1988).
Factual findings which are supported by substantial evidence must be upheld. 42
U.S.C. §405(g); Fargnoli v. Massanari, 247 F.3d 34, 38 (3d Cir. 2001) (“Where
the ALJ’s findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, we are bound by
those findings, even if we would have decided the factual inquiry differently.”);
Cotter v. Harris, 642 F.2d 700, 704 (3d Cir. 1981) (“Findings of fact by the
Secretary must be accepted as conclusive by a reviewing court if supported by
substantial evidence.”); Mastro v. Apfel, 270 F.3d 171, 176 (4th Cir. 2001); Keefe
v. Shalala, 71 F.3d 1060, 1062 (2d Cir. 1995); Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520,
1529 & 1529 n.11 (11th Cir. 1990).
Substantial evidence “does not mean a large or considerable amount of
evidence, but ‘rather such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.’” Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565
(1988) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. N.L.R.B., 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938));
Johnson v. Commissioner of Social Security, 529 F.3d 198, 200 (3d Cir. 2008);
Hartranft v. Apfel, 181 F.3d 358, 360 (3d Cir. 1999). Substantial evidence has
been described as more than a mere scintilla of evidence but less than a
preponderance. Brown, 845 F.2d at 1213. In an adequately developed factual
record, substantial evidence may be “something less than the weight of the
evidence, and the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the
evidence does not prevent an administrative agency’s finding from being
supported by substantial evidence.” Consolo v. Federal Maritime Commission,
383 U.S. 607, 620 (1966).
Substantial evidence exists only “in relationship to all the other evidence in
the record,” Cotter, 642 F.2d at 706, and “must take into account whatever in the
record fairly detracts from its weight.” Universal Camera Corp. v. N.L.R.B., 340
U.S. 474, 488 (1971). A single piece of evidence is not substantial evidence if the
Commissioner ignores countervailing evidence or fails to resolve a conflict
created by the evidence. Mason, 994 F.2d at 1064. The Commissioner must
indicate which evidence was accepted, which evidence was rejected, and the
reasons for rejecting certain evidence. Johnson, 529 F.3d at 203; Cotter, 642 F.2d
at 706-07. Therefore, a court reviewing the decision of the Commissioner must
scrutinize the record as a whole. Smith v. Califano, 637 F.2d 968, 970 (3d Cir.
1981); Dobrowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d 403, 407 (3d Cir. 1979).
SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION PROCESS
To receive disability benefits, the plaintiff must demonstrate an “inability 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. § 432(d)(1)(A). Further,
[a]n individual shall be determined to be under a disability only
if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such
severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but
cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience,
engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which
exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such
work exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether
a specific job vacancy exists for him, or whether he would be
hired if he applied for work. For purposes of the preceding
sentence (with respect to any individual), “work which exists in
the national economy” means work which exists in significant
numbers either in the region where such individual lives or in
several regions of the country.
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A).
The Commissioner uses a five-step process in evaluating disability and
claims for disability insurance benefits. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; Poulos, 474
F.3d at 91-92. This process requires the Commissioner to consider, in sequence,
whether a claimant (1) is engaging in substantial gainful activity, (2) has an
impairment that is severe or a combination of impairments that is severe, (3) has
an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or equals the
requirements of a listed impairment, (4) has the residual functional capacity to
return to his or her past work and (5) if not, whether he or she can perform other
work in the national economy. Id. As part of step four, the Commissioner must
determine the claimant’s residual functional capacity. Id. If the claimant has the
residual functional capacity to do his or her past relevant work, the claimant is not
disabled. Id. “The claimant bears the ultimate burden of establishing steps one
through four.” Residual functional capacity is the individual’s maximum
remaining ability to do sustained work activities in an ordinary work setting on a
regular and continuing basis. See Social Security Ruling 96-8p, 61 Fed. Reg.
34475 (July 2, 1996). A regular and continuing basis contemplates full-time
employment and is defined as eight hours a day, five days per week or other
similar schedule. The residual functional capacity assessment must include a
discussion of the individual’s abilities. Id.; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545 and 416.945;
Hartranft, 181 F.3d at 359 n.1 (“‘Residual functional capacity’ is defined as that
which an individual is still able to do despite the limitations caused by his or her
“At step five, the burden of proof shifts to the Social Security
Administration to show that the claimant is capable of performing other jobs
existing in significant numbers in the national economy, considering the
claimant’s age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity. ”
Poulos, 474 F.3d at 92, citing Ramirez v. Barnhart, 372 F.3d 546, 550 (3d Cir.
Initially, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2012. (Tr. 12). At
step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful work
activity from his alleged onset date of November 29, 2011. (Tr. 12).
At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff suffered from the severe6
combination of impairments of the following: “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary
Disease (COPD), Emphysema, Right Eye Blindness and Borderline Intellectual
Functioning (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(c)).” (Tr. 12).
At step three of the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments of section 1.06 of
20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525
and 404.1526). (Tr. 13-15).
At step four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was capable of performing light
work with limitations, stating the following:
6. An impairment is “severe” if it significantly limits an individual’s ability to
perform basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. § 404.921. Basic work activities are the
abilities and aptitudes necessary to do most jobs, such as walking, standing,
sitting, lifting, pushing, seeing, hearing, speaking, and remembering. Id. An
impairment or combination of impairments is “not severe” when medical and other
evidence establish only a slight abnormality or a combination of slight
abnormalities that would have no more than a minimal effect on an individual’s
ability to work. 20 C.F.R. § 416.921; Social Security Rulings 85-28, 96-3p and
After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned
finds that, through the date last insured, [Plaintiff] has the
[RFC] to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(b). [Plaintiff] was capable of occasionally climbing,
balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling.
[Plaintiff] was required to avoid concentrated exposure to
temperature extremes, high humidity, fumes, gases and dust.
[Plaintiff] was required to avoid work at unprotected heights.
[Plaintiff] was prohibited from operating a motor vehicle.
[Plaintiff] was capable of performing work that requires only
occasional depth perception, color vision and peripheral vision
accommodations. [Plaintiff was capable of performing routine,
repetitive 1 and 2 step tasks. [Plaintiff] was capable of handling
occasional workplace changes and occasional decision-making.
[Plaintiff] was capable of performing jobs that do not require
At step five of the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ determined that,
given Plaintiff’s RFC, he was unable to perform past relevant work, but that given
his age, education, work experience, and RFC, there were jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that [Plaintiff] could perform for both
aforementioned RFC time periods. (Tr. 21-22).
Thus, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not under a disability as defined
in the Social Security Act at any time from November 29, 2011 through the date
last insured. (Tr. 22).
On appeal, Plaintiff alleges that: (1) the ALJ erred in determining Plaintiff’s
peripheral neuropathy to be non-severe; (2) the ALJ erred in his RFC
determination by not including a stand/walk limitation; (3) the ALJ erred in the
weight he assigned to the opinion evidence; (4) the ALJ erred in determining
Plaintiff’s credibility; and (5) the Commissioner failed to sustain her burden of
establishing that there is other work in the national economy Plaintiff could
perform. (Doc. 11, pp. 11-32). Defendant disputes these contentions. (Doc. 15,
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in determining Plaintiff’s peripheral
neuropathy to be non-severe in violation of Social Security Regulation (“SSR”)
96-3p because this impairment was more than a slight abnormality that had more
than a minimal effect on his ability to do basic work activities. (Doc. 11, pp. 1113).
Step Two “‘is a threshold analysis that requires [a claimant] to show that he
has one severe impairment.’” Traver v. Colvin, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136708, at
*29 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 3, 2016) (Conaboy, J.) (citing Bradley v. Barnhart, 175
F.App’x 87 (7th Cir. 2006)). SSR 96-3p states that an impairment is considered
severe if it “significantly limits an individual’s physical or mental abilities to do
basic work activities.” SSR 96-3p. An impairment is not severe if it is a slight
abnormality that has no more than a minimal effect on the Plaintiff’s ability to do
basic work activities. Id. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit has held that as long as the ALJ finds at least one (1) impairment to be
severe at Step Two, that step is resolved in Plaintiff’s favor, the sequential
evaluation process continues, and any impairment that is found to non-severe is
harmless error because the ALJ still has to consider all impairments, both severe
and non-severe, in the RFC analysis. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a)(2),
416.945(a)(2); see also Salles v. Commissioner of Social Security, 229 F. App’x
140, 145 n.2 (3d Cir. 2007) (“Because the ALJ found in [the plaintiff’s] favor at
Step Two, even if he had erroneously concluded that some of her other
impairments were non-severe, any error was harmless.” (citing Rutherford v.
Barnhart, 399 F.3d 546, 553 (3d Cir. 2005))); Popp v. Astrue, 2009 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS, *4 (W.D. Pa. April 7, 2009) (“The Step Two determination as to whether
Plaintiff is suffering from a severe impairment is a threshold analysis requiring the
showing of only one severe impairment . . . In other words, as long as a claim is
not denied at Step Two, it is not generally necessary for the ALJ to have
specifically found any additional alleged impairment to be severe.”) (citations
In the case at hand, the ALJ found several of Plaintiff’s impairments to be
severe at Step Two, and thus resolved this step in Plaintiff’s favor and continued
the sequential evaluation process. (Tr. 12). The ALJ completed all five (5) steps
of the sequential evaluation process, and in the RFC section, accounted for the
limitations caused by Plaintiff’s peripheral neuropathy as the ALJ limited Plaintiff
to occupations that involved only occasional climbing, balancing, stooping,
kneeling, crouching, and crawling, that required him to avoid work at unprotected
heights, and that prohibited him from operating a motor vehicle. (Tr. 15-21). As
such, because the sequential evaluation process continued past Step Two and
because the ALJ took all of Plaintiff’s impairments, both severe and non-severe,
into account when determining his RFC, substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s
decision at Step Two, and the decision will not be disturbed on appeal based on
Residual Functional Capacity Assessment
Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ erred in the RFC determination because the
ALJ did not include standing/ walking limitations that are implied within the light
work category. (Doc. 11, pp. 15-16). Plaintiff supports this assertion with the fact
that Dr. Khalid opined that Plaintiff could only stand/ walk for one (1) hour or less
in an eight (8) hour workday and Ms. Rowland opined that Plaintiff could only
stand/ walk for two (2) hours or less in an eight (8) hour workday due to COPD.
According to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b), light work:
involves lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time with frequent
lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds. Even
though the weight lifted may be very little, a job is in this
category when it requires a good deal of walking or standing,
or when it involves sitting most of the time with some pushing
and pulling or arm or leg controls. To be considered capable of
performing a full or wide range of light work, you must have
the ability to do substantially all of these activities.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b), Light Work. “Light work generally requires ‘a good
deal of walking or standing’ . . . ‘for a total of approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour
workday.’” Michaels v. Colvin, 621 Fed. Appx. 35, 12 (2d Cir. 2015) (citing SSR
83-10, 1983 SSR LEXIS 30, at *13). However, SSR 83-10 has been interpreted to
mean that this six (6) hour benchmark for standing and/or walking applies to a full
range of light work. Lackey v. Colvin, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64647, at *8-9
(W.D. Pa. May 7, 2013) (“Plaintiff misinterprets SSR 83-10, 1983 LEXIS 30 as
precluding any light work for an individual who cannot stand or walk for 6 hours
of an 8-hour work day when in fact that ruling only provides that ‘the full range of
light work requires standing or walking, off and on, for a total of approximately 6
hours out of an 8-hour work day.’ Thus, while it is true that plaintiff is not able to
perform the full range of light work, the ALJ did not so find. Instead, based on the
medical evidence, the ALJ determined that plaintiff can stand and/ or walk up to 4
hours of an 8-hour day, and then relied upon testimony from a vocational expert
indicating that there are jobs at the light exertional level which an individual who
is limited to standing and/or walking 4 hours in an 8-hour workday nevertheless
can perform. Accordingly, the court is satisfied that the ALJ’s residual functional
capacity finding that plaintiff can perform less than the full range of light work is
consistent with SSR 83-10, 1983 LEXIS 30 and the regulations and otherwise is
supported by the record.”). Thus, the six (6) hour benchmark for light work is
applicable only in cases in which an ALJ determines that a claimant can perform a
full range of light work.
In the case at hand, in response to the ALJ’s hypothetical question that
limited Plaintiff to standing and/ or walking less than one (1) hour in an eight (8)
hour workday, the VE responded that there were still jobs present in significant
numbers in the national economy at the light exertion work level that Plaintiff
could perform, including, potato chip sorter, stuffer, and bakery worker. (Tr. 43).
Furthermore, with regards to Ms. Rowland’s opinion, she stated that her
opinion only applied to the time period from June 12, 2013 and forward. (Tr. 20,
273). Thus, her opinion regarding Plaintiff’s limitations in standing/ walking did
not include the relevant time period to be taken into account in determining
Plaintiff’s RFC. With regards to Dr. Khalid’s opinion, as noted by the ALJ, there
was no medical evidence regarding the relevant time period to support Dr.
Khalid’s conclusion that Plaintiff could only walk/ stand for one (1) hour or less in
an eight (8) workday because Plaintiff’s COPD had not advanced, which is
evident in Dr. Khalid’s own notes that Plaintiff had good air movement in his
bilateral lungs, that his lungs were clear to auscultation, and that Plaintiff had
slight wheezing. (Tr. 17-18, 193, 202). His pulmonary function test in early
December 2012 noted that Plaintiff had normal spirometry with normal lung
volumes and diffusing capacity. (Tr. 18, 206). Dr. Khalid also noted that, with
regard to Plaintiff’s peripheral neuropathy, Plaintiff walked with a normal gait,
and had normal strength and stability throughout his extremities. (Tr. 17-18, 193).
Additionally, the state agency physician Dr. Kar, who examined the entire record
and whose opinion was given significant weight by the ALJ, opined that Plaintiff
was capable of standing and/ or walking for six (6) hours or more based on these
aforementioned benign examination findings. (Tr. 18, 54-56). Thus, for the
relevant time period of the alleged onset date of November 29, 2011 through the
date last insured of December 31, 2012, there was no medical evidence that
Plaintiff was as limited in standing/ walking as opined by Dr. Khalid.
As such, because the ALJ did not determine that Plaintiff could perform a
full range of light work, but rather could perform a more restrictive form of light
work with the aforementioned restrictions, because the ALJ relied on the VE’s
response to a hypothetical that included a standing/ walking limitation of one (1)
hour or less in an eight (8) hour workday, and because the medical evidence does
not support the opinions of Dr. Khalid and Ms. Rowland that limited Plaintiff’s
amount of walking and/ or standing, the ALJ’s RFC determination is supported by
substantial evidence and will not be disturbed on appeal based on this assertion.
Plaintiff next asserts that the ALJ erred in evaluation the opinions rendered
by Dr. Khalid, Ms. Rowland, Dr. Levenstein, Dr. Kar, and Dr. Yeater. (Doc. 15,
The preference for the treating physician’s opinion has been recognized by
the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and by all of the federal circuits. See, e.g.,
Morales v. Apfel, 225 F.3d 310, 316-18 (3d Cir. 2000). This is especially true
when the treating physician’s opinion “reflects expert judgment based on a
continuing observation of the patient’s condition over a prolonged time.”
Morales, 225 F.3d at 317; Plummer, 186 F.3d at 429; see also 20 CFR §
416.927(d)(2)(i)(1999) (“Generally, the longer a treating source has treated you
and the more times you have been seen by a treating source, the more weight we
will give to the source’s medical opinion.”).
However, when the treating physician’s opinion conflicts with a nontreating, non-examining physician’s opinion, the ALJ may choose whom to credit
in his or her analysis, but “cannot reject evidence for no reason or for the wrong
reason.” Morales, 225 F.3d 316-18. It is within the ALJ’s authority to determine
which medical opinions he rejects and accepts, and the weight to be given to each
opinion. 20 C.F.R. § 416.927. The ALJ is permitted to give great weight to a
medical expert’s opinion if the assessment is well-supported by the medical
evidence of record. See Sassone v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 165 F. App’x 954, 961
(3d Cir. 2006) (holding that there was substantial evidence to support the ALJ’s
RFC determination that the plaintiff could perform light work, even though this
determination was based largely on the opinion of one medical expert, because the
medical expert’s opinion was supported by the medical evidence of record);
Chandler v. Commissioner of Social Security, 667 F.3d 356, 361 (3d Cir. 2011)
(“Although treating and examining physician opinions often deserve more weight
than the opinions of doctors who review records . . . ‘[t]he law is clear . . . that the
opinion of a treating physician does not bing the ALJ on the issue of functional
capacity’ . . . state agent opinions merit significant considerations as well.”) (citing
Brown v. Astrue, 649, F.3d 193, 197 n.2 (3d Cir. 2011)); Baker v. Astrue, 2008
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62258 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 13, 2008).
Regardless, the ALJ has the duty to adequately explain the evidence that he
rejects or to which he affords lesser weight. Diaz v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 577
F.3d 500, 505-06 (3d Cir. 2009). “The ALJ’s explanation must be sufficient
enough to permit the court to conduct a meaningful review.” Burnett v. Comm’r
of Soc. Sec., 220 F.3d 112, 119-20 (3d Cir. 2000).
Regarding Dr. Khalid’s opinion, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in
failing to apply the standing/ walking limitation to the RFC determination. (Doc.
15, pp. 17-19). For the reasons discussed in the preceding section above,
substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s determination and the significant weight
he gave to this opinion. Furthermore, according to the Third Circuit, “no rule or
regulation compels an ALJ to incorporate into an RFC every finding made by a
medical source simply because the ALJ gives the source’s opinion as a whole
‘significant’ weight.” Wilkinson v. Commissioner of Social Security, 558 F.
App’x 254, 256 (3d Cir. 2014).
Regarding Ms. Rowland’s opinion, Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ failed to
apply SSR 83-20 when evaluation this opinion. (Doc. 15, pp. 19-21). The ALJ
gave Ms. Rowland’s opinion no weight whatsoever because it was limited to the
time period of June 12, 2013 forward. (Tr. 20, 273).
SSR 83-20 states the following:
In some cases, it may be possible, based on the medical
evidence to reasonably infer that the onset of a disabling
impairment(s) occurred some time prior to the date of the first
recorded medical examination, e.g., the date the claimant
stopped working. How long the disease may be determined to
have existed at a disabling level of severity depends on an
informed judgment of the facts in the particular case. This
judgment, however, must have a legitimate basis.
(Id. at 20). Plaintiff argues that there was evidence that Plaintiff had the same
limitations from COPD in December 2012 that he had when Ms. Rowland
completed her assessment in 2013 based on Plaintiff’s self-reported symptoms of
shortness of breath.
However, as noted, Plaintiff’s examinations showed that Plaintiff had good
air movement in his bilateral lungs, that his lungs were clear to auscultation, and
that Plaintiff had slight wheezing. (Tr. 17-18, 193, 202). His pulmonary function
test in early December 2012 noted that Plaintiff had normal spirometry with
normal lung volumes and diffusing capacity. (Tr. 18, 206). This objective
medical evidence therefore does not invoke the application of SSR 83-20 because
it is not possible, based on the medical evidence, to reasonably infer that the onset
of a COPD and its limitations occurred before the date provided by Ms. Rowland
in her opinion.
Regarding Dr. Levenstein’s opinion, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in
giving this opinion limited weight because his explanation for doing so is “vague
and unsupported” and because, as a consultative examiner, under SSR 96-6, the
ALJ should have given this opinion significant weight. (Doc. 15, pp. 21-24).
However, the ALJ explained that he gave this opinion limited weight because it
was inconsistent with and unsupported by the objective medical evidence and Dr.
Levenstein’s own examination findings. (Tr. 19). According to 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c)(4), more weight will be given to opinions that are consistent with the
record as a whole. The ALJ is permitted to give great weight to a medical expert’s
opinion if the assessment is well-supported by the medical evidence of record.
See Sassone v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 165 F. App’x 954, 961 (3d Cir. 2006). When
it is not supported, the ALJ is under no obligation to give this opinion significant
weight. In the case at hand, the ALJ explained that, “Dr. Levenstein’s assessment,
specifically that [Plaintiff] is close to being functionally illiterate, is inconsistent
with the objective findings noted throughout the medical evidence of record,
including Dr. Khalid’s finding that [Plaintiff] was able to read the words ‘ask your
doctor if it’s time for.’ Further, the extreme restrictions noted within Dr.
Levenstein’s assessment, including the GAF score of 40, are inconsistent with and
unsupported by the objective clinical findings noted throughout the medical
evidence of record, including Dr. Levenstein’s own findings, which indicate that
[Plaintiff] is alert and oriented and he is able to complete serial 7s with only one
error.” (Tr. 19). As such, the weight the ALJ gave to Dr. Levenstein’s opinion is
supported by substantial evidence because it is inconsistent with and unsupported
by the medical record as sufficiently explained by the ALJ.
Regarding the opinions of the state agency physicians, namely Dr. Kar and
Dr. Yeater, Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ erred giving these opinions significant
weight because they are non-examining, non-treating physicians. (Doc. 15, pp.
24-25). Initially, it is noted that there was no opinion rendered by a treating
physician, but rather only by consultative examiners. Furthermore, as stated, even
if there were a treating physician opinion present, when the treating physician’s
opinion conflicts with a non-treating, non-examining physician’s opinion, the ALJ
may choose whom to credit in his or her analysis, but “cannot reject evidence for
no reason or for the wrong reason.” Morales, 225 F.3d 316-18. It is within the
ALJ’s authority to determine which medical opinions he rejects and accepts, and
the weight to be given to each opinion. 20 C.F.R. § 416.927. The ALJ is
permitted to give great weight to a medical expert’s opinion if the assessment is
well-supported by the medical evidence of record. See Sassone v. Comm’r of Soc.
Sec., 165 F. App’x 954, 961 (3d Cir. 2006) (holding that there was substantial
evidence to support the ALJ’s RFC determination that the plaintiff could perform
light work, even though this determination was based largely on the opinion of
one medical expert, because the medical expert’s opinion was supported by the
medical evidence of record); Chandler v. Commissioner of Social Security, 667
F.3d 356, 361 (3d Cir. 2011) (“Although treating and examining physician
opinions often deserve more weight than the opinions of doctors who review
records . . . ‘[t]he law is clear . . . that the opinion of a treating physician does not
bing the ALJ on the issue of functional capacity’ . . . state agent opinions merit
significant considerations as well.”) (citing Brown v. Astrue, 649, F.3d 193, 197
n.2 (3d Cir. 2011)); Baker v. Astrue, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62258 (E.D. Pa. Aug.
In the case at hand, the ALJ gave the opinions of the state agency physicians
significant weight because they were both consistent with and supported by the
objective medical findings noted throughout the medical evidence of record. (Tr.
18-19). As such, the ALJ sufficiently explained why he was giving these opinions
For the reasons stated, substantial evidence supports the weight the ALJ
afforded to the medical opinions, and the decision of the ALJ will not be disturbed
on appeal based on this assertion.
Plaintiff asserts the ALJ erred in determining Plaintiff was not fully credible
in violation of 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529 ( c) and SSR 96-7p. (Doc. 15, pp. 25-28).
As part of Step Four of the sequential evaluation process, once an ALJ
concludes that there is a medical impairment that could reasonably cause the
alleged symptoms, “he or she must evaluate the intensity and persistence of the
pain or symptom, and the extent to which it affects the individual’s ability to
work.” Hartranft, 181 F.3d at 362 (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529(c)). This
“requires the ALJ to determine the extent to which a claimant is accurately stating
the degree of pain or the extent to which he or she is disabled by it.” Id. In
evaluating the intensity and persistence of a claimant’s symptoms, an ALJ should
consider: (1) the claimant’s history; (2) medical signs and laboratory findings; (3)
medical opinions; and (4) statements from the claimant, treating and non-treating
sources, and other persons about how the claimant’s symptoms affect him/her.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529. Importantly, “[a]n individual’s statements about the
intensity and persistence of pain or other symptoms or about the effect the
symptoms have on his or her ability to work may not be disregarded solely
because they are not substantiated by objective medical evidence.” 1996 SSR
LEXIS 4 (1996); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529(c)(2).
“Generally, ‘an ALJ’s findings based on the credibility of the applicant are
to be accorded great weight and deference, particularly since an ALJ is charged
with the duty of observing a witness’s demeanor and credibility.’” Fell v. Astrue,
2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167100, *29 (M.D. Pa. 2013) (Conaboy, J.) (quoting
Walters v. Commissioner of Social Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 531 (6th Cir. 1997));
Frazier v. Apfel, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3105 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 6, 2000). “‘The
credibility determinations of an administrative judge are virtually unreviewable on
appeal.” Hoyman v. Colvin, 606 Fed. App’x 678, 681 (3d Cir. 2015) (citing
Beiber v. Dep’t of the Army, 287 F.3d 1358, 1364 (Fed. Cir. 2002)).
Social Security Ruling 96-7p gives the following instructions in evaluating
the credibility of the claimant’s statements:
In general, the extent to which an individual’s statements about
symptoms can be relied upon as probative evidence in
determining whether the individual is disabled depends on the
credibility of the statements. In basic terms, the credibility of
an individual’s statements about pain or other symptoms and
their functional effects is the degree to which the statements
can be believed and accepted as true. When evaluating the
credibility of an individual’s statements, the adjudicator must
consider the entire case record and give specific reasons for the
weight given to the individual’s statements.
SSR 96-7p. “In particular, an ALJ should consider the following factors: (1) the
plaintiff’s daily activities; (2) the duration, frequency and intensity of the
plaintiff’s symptoms; (3) precipitating and aggravating factors; (4) the type,
dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of any medication taken to alleviate the
symptoms; (5) treatment, other than medication for relief of the symptoms; (6) any
measures the plaintiff uses or has used to relieve the symptoms; (7) the plaintiff’s
prior work record; and (8) the plaintiff’s demeanor during the hearing.” Jury v.
Colvin, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33067, *33 (M.D. Pa. 2014) (Conner, J.) (citing 20
C.F.R. § 404.1529(c)(3)).
In assessing Plaintiff’s credibility in this case, the ALJ stated:
The undersigned does not find [Plaintiff] to be entirely credible
regarding the extent and severity of his impairments and
limitations during the relevant period ending on the date last
(Tr. 20). The ALJ discussed the medical record highlights in support of his
credibility determination, including, but not limited to, the following: (1) Plaintiff
did not receive treatment aside from consultative examinations; (2) normal
pulmonary function testing and examination findings; (3) ambulation with a
normal gait and without an assistive device; (4) normal strength and stability
throughout his extremities; (5) ability to read sentences from a pamphlet; (6)
failure to quit smoking; and (7) failure to use eye drops for glaucoma. (Tr. 20). In
terms of Plaintiff’s activities of daily living, the ALJ noted that Plaintiff testified
that he was able to drive, perform personal care duties, perform some household
chores, go out alone, shop for groceries, handle a saving account, follow oral
instructions, and get along well with others. (Tr. 20-21). Thus, the ALJ
considered the aforementioned Jury factors in his analysis, including daily
activities, treatment and measures used to relieve symptoms, and the duration,
frequency and intensity of Plaintiff’s symptoms, which is evident in the resulting
restrictive RFC finding.
Upon review of the record and the ALJ’s credibility determination, it is
determined that there is substantial evidence to support the ALJ’s credibility
finding of Plaintiff. The ALJ is correct that there were enough inconsistencies in
the record regarding Plaintiff’s self-reported limitations that weakened his
credibility, including the benign examination findings, lack of evidence for
medication side-effects, and Plaintiff’s self-reported activities of daily living.
Furthermore, the ALJ did not find Plaintiff to be not credible, but only not entirely
credible. (Tr. 20). The restrictive RFC finding is evidence that ALJ found
Plaintiff credible to some degree, albeit not completely, as the ALJ concluded
Plaintiff could perform only a limited range of light work based, in part, on his
subjective complaints. (Tr. 15-21). As such, because the ALJ’s credibility
determination is to be accorded great deference and is supported by substantial
evidence, the ALJ’s decision will not be disturbed on appeal based on Plaintiff’s
Lastly, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in not applying rule 202.09 of the
medical-vocational guidelines (grids) at 20 C.F.R., Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 2 (Doc.
15, pp. 28-32). However, this rule is not applicable because Plaintiff is not unable
to communicate in English nor is he illiterate. As noted by the ALJ, Plaintiff
completed nine grades of public school education, has no record that he was
unable to read, was able to drive and navigate using road signs, testified that he
used glasses to read small print, completed the disability paperwork by himself,
and was able to read phrases from pamphlets during examinations. (Tr. 21, 30, 33,
35, 38, 142). Thus, the ALJ properly applied grid rule 202.11, which reasoned a
finding a “not disabled.” (Tr. 22).
Furthermore, to the extent that Plaintiff assert that the ALJ’s hypothetical
question did not adequately account for his visual impairments, it is noted that the
ALJ included visual limitations in the RFC determination. (Tr. 15). The ALJ
limited Plaintiff to jobs that require no driving or unprotected heights work and
only occasional dept perception, color vision, and peripheral vision. (Tr. 15).
As such, substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s Step Five finding, and the
decision will not be disturbed on appeal based on this assertion.
Based upon a thorough review of the evidence of record, the Court finds
that the Commissioner’s decision is supported by substantial evidence. Therefore,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the appeal will be denied, the decision of the
Commissioner will be affirmed, and judgment will be entered in favor of
Defendant and against Plaintiff.
A separate Order will be issued.
Date: March 3, 2017
/s/ William J. Nealon
United States District Judge
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