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Jose Baltazar Lopez v. Michael J. Astrue

March 27, 2012

JOSE BALTAZAR LOPEZ PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on a motion for summary reversal [11], filed by Plaintiff Jose Baltazar Lopez, seeking judicial review of a decision of Defendant Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, denying his application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB"). Plaintiff asks the Court to reverse the decision of the Administrative Law Judge denying him benefits or, alternatively, remand for further proceedings. Defendant has filed a memorandum in support of the Commissioner's decision and Plaintiff has a filed a reply in support of his motion. For the following reasons, the Court denies Plaintiff's request and affirms the decision of the Administrative Law Judge.

I. Procedural Background

On August 28, 2007, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits, alleging that he became disabled as of July 21, 2006. See Administrative Record at 88-95.*fn1 Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a hearing, which was held on June 2, 2009, before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). R. at 29-45. In a decision dated September 24, 2009 the ALJ denied Plaintiff's claim for disability benefits, which included the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2011.

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 21, 2006, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: left foot crush injury; and obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).

4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).

5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the following residual functional capacity: he is able to perform less than full range of sedentary work. The claimant can lift/carry ten pounds occasionally and less than ten pounds frequently; stand and/or walk two hours during an eight hour work day; and sit at least six hours during an eight hour work day. He should be provided a sit-stand option at will and avoid climbing ladders ropes and scaffolding. He can occasionally climb ramps/stairs, balance, stoop, crouch, kneel and crawl and be allowed to use a cane as needed for ambulation.

6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).

7. The claimant was born on April 2, 1967 and was 39 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).

8. The claimant has a marginal education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).

9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is "not disabled," whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).

10. Considering the claimant'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 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)).

11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined by the Social Security Act, from July 21, 2006 through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g)).

R. at 15-28.

Plaintiff sought review of the ALJ's decision and the Appeals Council denied his request, leaving the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. R. at 8-12. Plaintiff now seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 405(g).

II. Facts

A. Background

Plaintiff, born on April 2, 1967, was forty-two years old on the date of hearing. R. at 26. Plaintiff has marginal employment and limited English comprehension. R. at 16, 32. Plaintiff has worked as an assembler, machine operator, laborer, and fork lift operator. R. at 122-129. Plaintiff alleged in his application that he is unable to work due to an accident that crushed his left foot. R. at 88.

B. Medical Evidence

On July 21, 2006, Plaintiff was injured while working as a forklift driver. Specifically, his left foot and ankle crushed when it was pinned between the metal body of the forklift and a metal pole. R. at 185. Plaintiff was immediately taken to the Tyler Medical Center. His treatment included stiches in his left heel, cephalexin and hydrocodone. Id.

Three days later, on July 24, 2006, Plaintiff returned to the Tyler Medical Center complaining of worsening pain and swelling in his left foot. R. at 183. He was transferred to the emergency room at Provena Mercy Medical Center. R. at 183, 205. In addition to his crush injury, he developed an infected hematoma in this left foot. R. at 208. His foot was swollen up to his mid-calf and there were several bloody blisters along the sole of his foot. Id. Lopez spent four days in the hospital receiving intravenous antibiotics. Id. On July 26, 2006, Plaintiff had surgery for irrigation and debridement of the infected hematoma. R. at 205. Lopez was ...


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