United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ROBIN A. BERGERON
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
an action brought pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security Administration (“SSA”),
denying Robin A. Bergeron's (“Bergeron”)
claim for Supplemental Security Income and Disability
Insurance Benefits under the Social Security Act. The matter
was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local
Rule 73.2(B), for the submission of Proposed Findings and
Factual Summary and Procedural History
Bergeron was a 48-year old female with three years of college
education and who worked as an account representative and
office manager. R. Doc. 12-6, Tr. 207-209. She has been
diagnosed with neuropathy, a hip condition, brain swelling,
arthritis, depression, a dislodged elbow, and back trouble.
Id. Bergeron claims that her disability began on
June 10, 2005. R. Doc. 12-5, Tr. 177, 184. Bergeron filed an
application for Supplemental Security Income Benefits on July
7, 2014 (R. Doc. 12-5, Tr. 177-182), which was denied on
October 10, 2014. R. Doc. 12-3, Tr. 73-79. She filed an
application for Disability Insurance Benefits on January 22,
2015. R. Doc. 12-5, Tr. 183-187.
requested a hearing before the administrative law judge,
which took place on September 30, 2015. R. Doc. 12-2, Tr.
52-72. A supplemental hearing took place on March 25, 2016.
Id., Tr. 34-51. The ALJ found that Bergeron had not
been engaged in substantial gainful activity since the onset
date and that she met the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2011. R. Doc. 12-2,
Tr. 13. Bergeron, according to the ALJ, has degenerative disc
disease, osteoarthritis, migraine headaches, multiple
sclerosis, and neuritis. Id. The ALJ found that
since the alleged onset date of June 10, 2005, Bergeron does
not have an impairment or combination of impairments that
meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. R.
Doc. 11-2, Tr. 14.
held that since June 10, 2005, Bergeron had the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work, but with the
following non-exertional limitations: no reaching above
shoulder level bilaterally; avoiding all exposure to hazards,
such as moving machinery and unprotected heights; and no jobs
requiring her to read fine print. Id. The ALJ
further held that since June 10, 2005, Bergeron has not been
able to perform any past relevant work. R. Doc. 12-2, Tr. 16.
also held that before the established disability onset day,
Bergeron was a younger individual aged 45-49. Id.,
Tr. 17. On April 26, 2016, her age category changed to an
individual closely approaching advanced age. Id. The
ALJ found that Bergeron has at least a high school education
and is able to communicate in English. Id. The ALJ
also noted that before April 26, 2016, transferability of job
skills was not material to the determination of disability
because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework
supports a finding that Bergeron is not disabled, whether or
not she had transferable job skills. Id. The ALJ
also noted that on April 26, 2016, Bergeron was not able to
transfer her job skills to other occupations. Id.
further held that prior to April 26, 2016, the date that the
claimant's age category changed, considering her age,
education, work experience, and residual functional capacity,
there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the
national economy that the claimant could have performed.
Id. The ALJ noted that, according to the vocational
expert, Bergeron could have worked as: (1) a surveillance
system monitor, which had 15, 593 jobs in the national
economy and 187 jobs in the local region; (2) a hand packer,
a sedentary, unskilled job with about 20, 949 jobs in the
national economy and 120 jobs in the local region; or (3) a
sorter with about 11, 890 jobs in the national economy and
162 jobs in the local region. Id., Tr. 18.
held that beginning on April 26, 2016, considering
Bergeron's age change, education, work experience, and
residual functional capacity, there are no jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that the she
could perform. Id. The ALJ held that while Bergeron
was not disabled before April 26, 2016, she became disabled
on that date and continued to be disabled through the date of
his decision. Id., Tr. 19. Lastly, the ALJ held that
Bergeron was not under a disability within the meaning of the
Social Security Act at any time through December 31, 2011,
the last date she was insured. Id.
September 15, 2017, Bergeron filed a complaint in this court
contending that the ALJ's decision is not based upon
substantial evidence. R. Doc. 1. Bergeron contends that the
opinion lacks substantial evidence because: (1) the ALJ gave
improper weight to the opinion of her primary care physician,
Dr. Robert Post; and (2) the ALJ's finding that her
disability began on April 26, 2016, is not supported by
substantial evidence and the correct onset date of her
disability was August 6, 2014. R. Doc. 13.
Commissioner contends that because Bergeron became disabled
after her insured status expired, she is not entitled to
benefits and her eligibility for benefits from January 1,
2012 through April of 2014 is moot. R. Doc. 16. The
Commissioner contends that the ALJ properly evaluated Dr.
Post's opinion. Id. The Commissioner also
contends that the ALJ properly relied on the
Medical-Vocational Guidelines to find her disabled.
Standard of Review
role of this Court on judicial review under Title 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) is limited to determining whether: (1) the
final decision is supported by substantial evidence; and (2)
whether the Commissioner applied the proper legal standards
when evaluating the evidence. See Brown v. Apfel,
192 F.3d 492, 496 (5th Cir. 1999). The Court may not re-weigh
the evidence, try issues de novo, or substitute its
judgment for that of the Commissioner. Allen v.
Schweiker, 642 F.2d 799, 800 (5th Cir. 1981). If
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
findings are conclusive and must be affirmed. Houston v.
Sullivan, 895 F.2d 1012, 1016 (5th Cir. 1989).
evidence is more than a scintilla and less than a
preponderance, and is considered relevant such that a
reasonable mind might accept it as adequate to support a
conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401
(1971). It must do more than create a suspicion of the
existence of the fact to be established, but no
“substantial evidence” will be found only where
there is a “conspicuous absence of credible
choices” or “contrary medical ...