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Ponton v. Commissioner of Social Security

August 4, 2009

SHANDE M. PONTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, SUED AS MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Bernthal U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER

In January 2008, Administrative Law Judge (hereinafter "ALJ") Kenneth Stewart denied Plaintiff Shande Ponton's application for disability insurance benefits (hereinafter "DIB") and supplemental security income (hereinafter "SSI"). The ALJ based his decision on findings that, although Plaintiff suffers from a severe impairment, he is capable of performing other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy; therefore, he is not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act.

The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate Judge.

In July 2008, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (#4) against Defendant Michael Astrue, the Commissioner of Social Security, seeking judicial review of the ALJ's decision to deny DIB and SSI. In December 2008, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (#14). In March 2009, Defendant filed a Motion for an Order Which Affirms the Commissioner's Decision (#17). After reviewing the administrative record and the parties' memoranda, this Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (#14).

I. Background

A. Procedural Background

Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI inOctober 2005, alleging disability beginning August 25, 2005.The Social Security Administration (hereinafter "SSA") denied Plaintiff's applications in February 2006, and again upon reconsideration in August 2006. Plaintiff filed a Request for Hearing and then testified at the hearing in October 2007. In January 2008, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI based on findings that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act and that he was capable of performing jobs available in significant numbers in the economy.

In May 2008, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. Plaintiff then appealed this decision by filing a complaint with this court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff seeks an outright reversal. In the alternative, he asks the Court to remand the case for reconsideration.

B. Plaintiff's Background

Plaintiff claims he suffers from chronic back pain and depression. Both parties described Plaintiff's medical background in detail and the Court need not repeat it here.

C. The Hearing Before the ALJ

InOctober 2007, the ALJ held a hearing at which Plaintiff, Cheryl Hoiseth, a vocational expert (hereinafter "VE"), and Pamala Ponton, Plaintiff's mother, testified.

Plaintiff testified that he is single and has no children. (R. 34.) He experiences sharp, shooting pains in his neck and shoulders. (R. 44.) Sometimes the pain radiates down his arms, usually on the right side. (R. 44-45.) He might have surgery to relieve the pressure on his spine.

(R. 46.) In the evenings, he has shooting pains in his legs, usually his right leg. (R. 47.) He is unable to get eight hours of sleep at night. (R. 48-49.) If he washes the dishes for 10 or 15 minutes, he will have to lie down for 20 or 30 minutes to recover. (R. 49.) He lies down in his "comfort zone" for probably 25-30% of the work day. (R. 50.) When he sits at the computer for 20 minutes, his pain is so bad he is "done for the day." (R. 51-52.) He stated that his pain is steadily getting worse. (R. 53.) He is currently taking Tramadol for his pain. (R. 58.) He went to his initial consultation for physical therapy but did not go to another appointment because he moved. (R. 58.) ...


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