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Anthony J. Talmo v. Michael J. Astrue

May 30, 2012

ANTHONY J. TALMO 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.

AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on a motion for summary reversal [11], filed by Plaintiff Anthony J. Talmo, seeking judicial review of a decision of Defendant Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, denying Talmo's application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI"). Plaintiff asks the Court to reverse the decision of the Administrative Law Judge denying him benefits or, alternatively, remand for further proceedings. Defendant filed a memorandum in support of the Commissioner's decision [31]. For the following reasons, the Court remands this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. Procedural Background

On March 9, 2007, Plaintiff applied for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income alleging an onset date of January 20, 2005. See Administrative Record at 387-93, 394-99.*fn1 Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, and a request for hearing was timely filed. On April 13, 2009, Plaintiff appeared and testified at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). R. at 370-84. In a decision dated May 14, 2009, the ALJ entered a partially favorable decision, which included the following findings:

1. The claimant met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on January 20, 2005, the alleged onset of disability, and has not subsequently engaged in substantial gainful activity (20 CFR 404.1520(b), 404.1571 et seq., 416.920(b) and 416.971 et seq.).

2. The claimant has a severe spinal impairment, along with hypertension and obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).

3. From January 20, 2005 through May 26, 2006, the claimant's spinal impairment met the criteria of section 1.04 of 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d) and 416.920(d)).

4. The claimant was under a disability, as defined by the Social Security Act, from January 20, 2005 through May 26, 2006 (20 CFR 404.1520(d) and 416.920(d)).

5. Medical improvement occurred as of May 27, 2006 (20 CFR 404.1594(b)(1) and 416.994(b)(1)(i)).

6. Since May 27, 2006, the claimant has not had an impairment or combination of impairments that meet or medically equals an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1594(f)(2) and 416.994(b)(5)(i).

7. As of May 27, 2006, the claimant had experienced medical improvement related to the ability to work because he no longer has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals a listing (20 CFR 404.1594(c)(3)(i) and 416.994(b)(2)(iv)(A)).

8. Since May 27, 2006, the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work, as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a).

9. Through May 27, 2006, the claimant remained incapable of performing past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).

10. The claimant, born on December 22, 1981, is defined as a younger individual at all times relevant (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).

11. The claimant has at least a high school education (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964). 12. 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 he has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).

13. Since May 27, 2006, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, he has been able to perform a significant number of jobs in the national economy (20 CFR 404.1560(c), 404.1566, 416.960(c), and 416.966).

14. The claimant's disability ended on May 27, 2006 (20 CFR 404.1594(f)(8) and 416.994(b)(5)(vii)).

R. at 341-53.

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 1-5. Plaintiff now seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

II. Facts

A. Background

Plaintiff, born on December 22, 1981, was twenty-two years old at the time he applied for DIB and SSI. R. at 387. Plaintiff reported a tenth-grade education. R. at 421. He has worked cleaning floors, stocking shelves, receiving merchandise, doing roofing installment and shipping-receiving for a printing company. R. at 416-17, 424.

B. Medical Evidence

On January 20, 2005, Plaintiff suffered a back injury while at work at a printing company. R. at 315-16. Five days later, Plaintiff had an MRI of his lumbar spine, which revealed herniation of the L4-L5 disc to the right side and herniation of the L5-S1 disc to the left side. R. at 493. In August 2005, Plaintiff underwent another MRI that revealed minimal indentation upon the thecal sac on the right at L1-L2 and L2-L3 possibly due to minimal bulging.

R. at 489. Additionally, at L3-L4 the MRI showed a diffuse disc bulge along with a new central tiny disc herniation. R. at 490. This did not result in any spinal stenosis and no definite neural foraminal narrowing was appreciated. R. at 490. At L4-L5, there was a right-sided herniation effacing the right L5 nerve root and L5-S1 ...


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