Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Martin v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

June 6, 2017

CANDACE MARTIN PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER

          JOHN C. GARGIULO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), Plaintiff Candace Martin seeks judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying her application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act and supplemental security income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Act. The Commissioner found that Martin was not disabled, despite her severe impairments of “essential hypertension, peripheral arterial disease, ischemic heart disease, hypertensive vascular disease, [and] late effects of cerebrovascular disease (cerebrovascular accident).” (ECF No. 10, at 14). Having reviewed the submissions of the parties, the record, and relevant law, the Court finds that Martin's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 13) should be DENIED and the decision of the Commissioner AFFIRMED.

         I. Background

         Martin was born in 1958. She received a certificate in medical billing and coding in December 2012. She has not worked in this field but has looked for work. Martin has been employed as a retail sales cashier clerk, casino cashier, and child care worker. She lives with her mother and daughter. She and her daughter share the responsibilities of caring for Martin's elderly mother.

         Martin underwent coronary artery bypass surgery on June 8, 2012, and a right carotid endarterectomy on August 7, 2012. She was recommended to have a left carotid endarterectomy, but she declined. On July 1, 2013, Martin suffered a stroke. After the stroke, Martin went back to work as a retail cashier clerk. According to Martin, she was fired a month later because she had difficulty with leg pain and stocking shelves. She maintains that she is unable to work due to pain that is primarily caused by standing and walking.

         Martin protectively filed her application on September 27, 2013, alleging disability since August 29, 2013, due to “a stroke, heart surgery, high blood pressure, [and] high cholesterol.” (ECF No. 10, at 168). The agency denied Martin's applications, and she requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), which was held on January 8, 2015. On January 15, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding Martin not disabled.

         The ALJ utilized the five-step sequential evaluation process to find Martin not disabled under the Social Security Act. See C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v), 416.920(a)(4)(i)-(v).[1] At step one, the ALJ found that Martin had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date of August 29, 2013. At step two, the ALJ found that Martin had the severe impairments of “essential hypertension, peripheral arterial disease, ischemic heart disease, hypertensive vascular disease, [and] late effects of cerebrovascular disease (cerebrovascular accident).” Id. at 14. At step three, the ALJ determined that Martin did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, for presumptive disability.

         Next, the ALJ determined that Martin retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b), except she could not be exposed to unprotected heights or hazardous machinery. Id. at 16. At step four, the ALJ, relying on the testimony of a vocational expert (VE), concluded that Martin was able to perform her past relevant work as a retail sales cashier clerk, casino cashier, and child care worker, each as they were actually performed by her and as generally performed in the national economy. Id. at 22. Martin was therefore found not disabled from the alleged onset date of August 29, 2013, through the date of the ALJ's decision.

         The Appeals Council denied Martin's request for review, making the ALJ's January 15, 2015, decision the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review. Having exhausted her administrative remedies, Martin commenced the present action by Complaint filed June 15, 2016. (ECF No. 1). Martin moved for summary judgment on November 28, 2016. (ECF No. 13).

         II. Standard of Review

         A review of the Commissioner's denial of benefits is limited to two inquiries: (1) whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole, and (2) whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards. Perez v. Barnhart, 415 F.3d 457, 461 (5th Cir. 2005). Substantial evidence must be more than a mere scintilla, but it need not be a preponderance. Leggett v. Chater, 67 F.3d 558, 564 (5th Cir. 1995).

         The Court's role is to scrutinize the entire record to ascertain whether substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's findings. Hollis v. Bowen, 837 F.2d 1378, 1383 (5th Cir. 1988). The Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Id. This is so, even if the Court determines that the evidence could allow for a different finding. Strickland v. Harris, 615 F.2d 1103, 1106 (5th Cir. 1980). A finding of no substantial evidence is appropriate only if there is “a conspicuous absence of credible choices or no contrary medical evidence.” Johnson v. Bowen, 864 F.2d 340, 343-44 (5th Cir. 1988).

         III. Discussion

         Martin submits that the ALJ erred in two ways: (1) by failing to consider whether she had an impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled the criteria for a neurological disorder, namely Listings 11.04 and 11.18; and (2) by assigning an RFC that is not supported by substantial evidence. Id. at 13. Martin asserts that her case should be remanded to the ALJ for a proper evaluation of whether she meets a neurological disorder Listing.

         The Commissioner responds by submitting that “Plaintiff did not meet the requirements for either Listing 11.04 or 11.18, and therefore no harmful error occurred due to the absence of a specific discussion of the Listing section by the ALJ.” (ECF No. 15, at 8). The Commissioner asserts that the ALJ's decision is supported by “substantial evidence, including the unremarkable examinations noted . . ., Plaintiff's activities of daily living, and the opinions from non-examining State agency physicians, Timothy Bessent, M.D., and Carol Kossman, M.D., who both reviewed the evidence of record and opined that Plaintiff could perform light work.” Id. at 12.

         A. Neurological Disorder Listings 11.04 and 11.18

          “The regulations recognize that certain impairments are so severe that they prevent a person from pursuing any gainful work.” Heckler v. Campbell, 461 U.S. 458, 460 (1983). At step three, the Commissioner considers the medical severity of the claimant's impairment(s) and determines whether the impairment(s) meets or equals the criteria for a listed impairment in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. See 20 C.F.R. ยง 416.920(a)(4)(iii), (d). A claimant who ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.