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Porrazzo v. Social Security Administration

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 7, 2014



KAREN WELLS ROBY, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction

The claimant, Antonio Porrazzo ("Porrazzo"), seeks judicial review pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his claim for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"), under Title II of the Social Security Act, Title 42 U.S.C. § 1382(c).

The matter was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 19.02E(b), for the submission of Proposed Findings and Recommendations.

II. Factual Background

Porrazzo is a thirty-five-year-old, 165 pound, 5' 6" tall male.[1] He has a high school diploma and previously worked as a customer service representative, inventory clerk manager, tuner specialist, and store trainer. In December 2008 Porrazzo had a laminectomy and was later diagnosed with a small disc herniation at L5-S1 with back pain and radiculopathy.[2]

On August 23, 2011, Porrazzo filed for a period of disability and DIB under Title II, and protectively filed for SSI under Title XVI of the Social Security Act.[3] All claims were initially denied on October 28, 2011.[4]

He alleges that he became disabled on November 07, 2008, due to severe low back pain with permanent nerve damage affecting his testicles and the right side of his body.[5] He alleges that he suffers with depression and alcohol abuse.[6] His date last insured was December 31, 2012.[7]

Porrazzo filed a written request for a hearing on December 29, 2011.[8] Christopher Juge, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on June 25, 2012.[9] The ALJ denied Porrazzo's claims on July 16, 2012, finding that he was not disabled under the meaning of the Social Security Act.[10]

In his decision, the ALJ analyzed Porrazzo's claims pursuant to the five-step[11] evaluation process used to determine whether a claimant is "disabled." Using this process, the ALJ found that Porrazzo met the insured status requirements of the SSA through December 31, 2013 and that he did not engage in substantial gainful activity since November 7, 2008, the alleged onset date.[12]

The ALJ further found that Porrazzo has a degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine. The ALJ noted that Porrazzo has a medically determinable mental impairment of substance abuse in remission and mood disorder, which does not, individually or in a combination, rise to the level of severe.[13] He found that the record shows no evidence that these caused more than mild limitations in the claimant's ability to perform basic mental work activities or activities of daily living, social functioning and concentration, persistence or pace. He further noted that there were no episodes of decompensation.[14]

The ALJ held that Porrazzo does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meet or medically equal the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 400, Subpart P, Appendix 1.[15] The ALJ further noted that Porrazzo had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), with the exception that he can only sit 6 hours in an 8-hour workday before he needs to stand and stretch for a couple of minutes.[16] The ALJ also noted that he can: stand or walk 4 hours in an 8-hour workday; can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; cannot climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds; can occasionally stoop, crouch, and kneel; and cannot crawl.[17]

The ALJ further found that Porrazzo is unable to perform any past relevant work as a car lot porter, hardware sales person, amusement park manager and inventory control person.[18] Nonetheless, the ALJ concluded that the transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because when using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework, it supports a finding that Porrazzo is not disabled.[19] The ALJ found that considering Porrazzo's age, education, work experience and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform.[20] The ALJ further found that Porrazzo was not under a disability from November 7, 2008 through the date of the decision.[21]

On August 15, 2013, Porrazzo requested review of the hearing decision.[22] On September 17, 2013, the Appeals council denied Porrazzo's request for review. On November 7, 2013, Porrazzo filed the subject complaint seeking review of the Administration's decision.[23] Plaintiff seeks reversal of the ALJ's decision because (1) the ALJ erred when he found that Porrazzo did not meet the listing level 1.04; (2) substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's credibility finding or the residual functional capacity based on that finding; and (3) the new evidence submitted to the Appeals Council requires remand.[24]

The Commissioner contends that the ALJ (1) properly found that Porrazzo did not meet or equal the listing 1.04 impairment; (2) substantial evidence supports the ALJ's credibility finding and residual functional capacity findings; and (3) the Appeals Council properly ...

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