United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
JAMES P. BARRON, JR. PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL T. PARKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
James P. Barron, Jr. brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) seeking judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security denying his claim for
disability insurance benefits. Having reviewed the
parties' submissions, the record, and the applicable law,
the Court finds that the Commissioner's final decision
should be affirmed.
aged twenty-five (25) at the time of his alleged disability
onset, filed for disability insurance benefits on November
18, 2016. Administrative R.  at 26, 121, 189. After the
Social Security Administration (SSA) denied Plaintiff's
claim, a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) on July 25, 2017. Id. at 54. After the
hearing, the ALJ issued an opinion in which he considered
Plaintiff's impairments related to his degenerative disc
disease, depression, anxiety, apnea/insomnia, and marijuana
abuse. Id. at 14. The ALJ concluded, after
considering the testimony offered at the hearing and the
record, that Plaintiff was not disabled and was not entitled
to disability benefits. Id. at 27. Plaintiff then
requested review of the ALJ's decision. Id. at
10-11. The Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's
decision, and the ALJ's opinion became the final decision
of the Commissioner. Id. at 4. This appeal followed.
LAW JUDGE'S DECISION
opinion, the ALJ applied the five-step analysis found in 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(b)-(g) and found that Plaintiff was not
disabled according to the SSA definition. At step one, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since September 4, 2013. Administrative R.
 at 17. At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff
suffered from the following severe impairments: degenerative
disc disease status post fusion syndrome, depression,
anxiety, apnea/insomnia, and marijuana abuse. Id.
The ALJ further noted that the marijuana abuse was not a
contributing factor in the determination that Plaintiff was
not disabled. Id.
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not meet the standard
for any of the listed impairments. Id. at 17-18.
Specifically, the ALJ considered Listing 1.04 for spinal
disorders, and 12.04 and 12.06 for mental impairments, but
determined that Plaintiff's ailments did not satisfy the
criteria for these Listings. Id. at 18.
then found that Plaintiff was able to perform sedentary work
but could only lift fifteen pounds occasionally and ten
pounds frequently. Id. at 20. The residual
functional capacity (RFC) also included that Plaintiff had
some degree of limitation related to walking, standing, and
using his left-lower extremity. Id. Further,
Plaintiff could not perform work involving commercial
driving, heights, hazardous machinery, climbing ladders, or
crowds in his work space, but he could carry out detailed
instructions and occasionally interact with the public.
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not able to perform
his past relevant work. Id. at 25. At step five, the
ALJ considered the testimony of a vocational expert (VE) and
found that Plaintiff could still perform work that was
available in significant numbers in the national economy.
Id. at 26. The VE testified that Plaintiff could
work as a semiconductor assembler, a patcher, or a lens
inserter. Id. at 26-27. Consequently, after
performing the five-step sequential analysis, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. Id. at 27.
Court will only review the Commissioner's denial of
benefits to determine if “(1) the final decision is
supported by substantial evidence and (2) whether the
Commissioner used the proper legal standards to evaluate the
evidence.” Newton v. Apfel, 209 F.3d 448, 452
(5th Cir. 2000). The Commissioner's decision must be
affirmed when there is substantial evidence to support the
findings. Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 173 (5th
evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept to support a conclusion. It is more than a mere
scintilla and less than a preponderance.” Ripley v.
Chater, 67 F.3d 552, 555 (5th Cir. 1995) (internal
quotations omitted). Conflicts in evidence are the purview of
the Commissioner and are not for the Court to resolve or
review de novo. Selders v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 614,
617 (5th Cir. 1990). Moreover, “‘[p]rocedural
perfection in administrative proceedings is not required'
as long as ‘the substantial rights of a party have not
been affected.'” Audler v. Astrue, 501
F.3d 446, 448 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Mays v.
Bowen, 837 F.2d 1362, 1364 (5th Cir.1988)).
raises a compound issue on appeal: whether the ALJ erred in
considering Plaintiff's mental restrictions, noted at
steps two and three, when he performed the RFC assessment,
and whether that ...