United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
MICHAEL W. SCARDINA
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. KNOWLES, III, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
se plaintiff Michael W. Scardina filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for review of the final
decision of the Commissioner denying his claim for
supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act ("SSA"). The matter
has been fully briefed on cross-motions for summary judgment,
and plaintiff has also filed an opposition to defendant's
motion for summary judgment. [Doc. #15]. The issues are thus
ripe for review. For the following reasons, IT IS RECOMMENDED
that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be DENIED,
the Commissioner's cross-motion be GRANTED, and
plaintiff's case be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
filed an application for SSI on August 19, 2014, alleging a
disability onset date of July 8, 2010. (Adm. Rec. at 139-45,
151). Plaintiff alleged disability due to anxiety, panic
disorder, heart problems, high blood pressure, liver disease,
hepatitis A-C, panic disorder with agoraphobia, major
depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder,
irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal polyps, a bulging disk
in his neck, and nerve damage in his left hand and arm.
(Id. at 154). Plaintiff, born on September 11, 1975,
was 35 years old on the date on which he alleged disability
and 40 years old at the time of the final administrative
decision. (Id. at 186). Plaintiff has a GED and some
college education. (Id. at 155). Plaintiff has past
work experience as an automobile mechanic. (Id.).
initially denied plaintiff's applications on February 27,
2013. (Id. at 86-89). Plaintiff sought an
administrative hearing, which defendant held on May 5, 2016.
(Id. at 40-65). Plaintiff and a vocational expert
(“VE”), Ms. Salenger, testified at the hearing.
15, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision in which he found that
plaintiff had not been disabled since August 19, 2014, the
date on which plaintiff filed his application. (Id.
at 20-36). In the decision, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff
has the severe impairments of cervical spine degenerative
disc disease and affective and anxiety disorders.
(Id. at 22). The ALJ held that plaintiff does not
have an impairment or a combination of impairments that meets
or medically equals a listed impairment under the
regulations. (Id.). The ALJ found that plaintiff
retains the residual functional capacity (ARFC") to
perform sedentary work activity as defined in 20 C.F.R. '
404.1567(a) except that he is limited to only occasional
postural activities and can not engage in overhead work or
reaching. (Id. at 24). He also determined that
plaintiff is limited to single routine repetitive tasks, can
have no close coordination with co-workers or supervisors,
and can have no public interaction. (Id.). The ALJ
concluded that plaintiff can not perform his past relevant
work. (Id. at 35). He concluded, however, that
plaintiff can perform the jobs of hand packager, general
clerk, and a surveillance system monitor, which jobs exist in
significant numbers in the national economy. (Id. at
35-36). The ALJ thus denied plaintiff SSI. (Id. at
asked the Appeals Council to review the ALJ's conclusion
that he is not disabled. (Id. at 10-11). On May 4,
2017, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request.
(Id. at 2-6). Plaintiff then timely filed this civil
STANDARD OF REVIEW
function of a district court on judicial review is limited to
determining whether there is “substantial
evidence" in the record, as a whole, to support the
final decision of the Commissioner as trier of fact, and
whether the Commissioner applied the appropriate legal
standards to evaluate the evidence. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Brown v. Apfel, 192 F.3d 492, 496
(5th Cir.1999); Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 173
(5th Cir.1995); Carriere v. Sullivan, 944 F.2d 243,
245 (5th Cir.1991). If the Commissioner's findings are
supported by substantial evidence, this Court must affirm
them. Martinez, 64 F.3d at 173.
evidence" is that which is relevant and sufficient for a
reasonable mind to accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
401(1971); Masterson v. Barnhart, 309 F.3d 267, 272
(5th Cir. 2002). It is more than a scintilla, but may be less
than a preponderance. Spellman v. Shalala, 1 F.3d
357, 360 (5th Cir.1993). A finding of no substantial evidence
is appropriate only if no credible evidentiary choices or
medical findings exist to support the Commissioner's
decision. See Boyd v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 698, 704 (5th
district court may not try the issues de novo,
re-weigh the evidence, or substitute its own judgment for
that of the Commissioner. Carey v. Apfel, 230 F.3d
131, 135 (5th Cir. 2000); Ripley v. Chater, 67 F.3d
552, 555 (5th Cir.1995); Spellman, 1 F.3d at 360.
The Commissioner is entitled to make any finding that is
supported by substantial evidence, regardless of whether
other conclusions are also permissible. See Arkansas v.
Oklahoma, 503 U.S. 91, 112-13 (1992). Conflicts in the
evidence are for the Commissioner to resolve, not the courts.
Carey, 230 F.3d at 135. Any of the
Commissioner's findings of fact that are supported by
substantial evidence are conclusive. Ripley, 67 F.3d
at 555. Despite this Court's limited function on review,
the Court must scrutinize the record in its entirety to
determine the reasonableness of the decision reached and
whether substantial evidence exists to support it.
Anthony v. Sullivan, 954 F.2d 289, 295 (5th
Cir.1992); Villa v. Sullivan, 895 F.2d 1019, 1022
ENTITLEMENT TO BENEFITS UNDER THE ACT
considered disabled and eligible for disability benefits
under the Act, plaintiff must show that he is unable
“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. Â§'
423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). A claimant is considered
disabled only if his physical or mental impairment is so
severe that he is unable to do not only his previous work,
but can not, considering his age, education and work
experience, participate in any other kind of substantial
gainful work which exists in significant numbers in the
national economy, regardless of whether such work exists in
the area in which he lives, whether a specific job vacancy
exists, or whether he would be hired if he applied for work.
42 U.S.C. § 1382(a)(3)(B). The Commissioner has
promulgated regulations that provide procedures for
evaluating a claim and determining disability. 20 C.F.R.
'' 404.1501 - 404.1599 & Appendices, ...