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Joseph Fuimo v. Michael Astrue

December 19, 2012

JOSEPH FUIMO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL ASTRUE, COMM'R OF SOC. SEC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by Joseph Fuimo ("Plaintiff") against the Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant" or "the Commissioner") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), are the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 14, 18.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff was born on February 12, 1979. He completed the seventh grade in special education. Most recently, Plaintiff worked at a truck stop as a porter and a janitor. Generally, Plaintiff's alleged disability consists of anger issues, anxiety, arthritis, bipolar disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, low intelligence, paranoia, and social phobia. His alleged disability onset date is January 1, 2000.

B. Procedural History

On July 31, 2009 Plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security Income. Plaintiff's application was initially denied, after which he timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("the ALJ"). On November 24, 2010, Plaintiff first appeared before the ALJ, Barry E. Ryan. At that time, the ALJ heard some testimony from Plaintiff and entered a continuance so that Plaintiff could obtain additional records related to his ongoing treatment. (T. 23-31.) Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ a second time, but the hearing was rescheduled due to Plaintiff's counsel's illness. (T. 32-35.) Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ a third and final time, and a hearing was held during which the remainder of Plaintiff's testimony was heard. (T. 36-56.) The ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act on June 21, 2011. (T. 6-22.) On November 2, 2011, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 1-4.) Thereafter, Plaintiff timely sought judicial review in this Court.

C. The ALJ's Decision

Generally, in his decision, the ALJ made the following five findings of fact and conclusions of law. (T. 11-17.) First, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his application date. (T. 11.) Second, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's depression and reading disorder are severe impairments. (T. 11-12.) Third, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments located in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix. 1. (T. 12-13.) The ALJ considered listings 12.04 and 12.05. (Id.) Fourth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform the full range of work at all exertional levels as well as understand, carry out, and remember simple instructions, respond appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and usual work situations, and deal with changes in a routine work setting. (T. 14-16.) Fifth, and finally, the ALJ determined that there are jobs that exist in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform.

(T. 17.)

II. THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION

A. Plaintiff's Arguments

Plaintiff makes three separate arguments in support of his motion for judgment on the pleadings. First, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in failing to properly assess the medical opinions of Drs. Robert Russell, Ed.D., Dennis M. Noia, Ph.D., and R. Altmansberger, M.D. (Dkt. No. 14 at 10-15 [Pl.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in failing to find that Plaintiff's anxiety disorder and/or borderline intellectual functioning are severe impairments. (Id. at 15-16.) Third, and finally, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred when he failed to properly assess Plaintiff's credibility. (Id. at 16-22.)

B. Defendant's Arguments

In response, Defendant makes three arguments. First, Defendant argues that the ALJ properly assessed the severity of Plaintiff's impairments. (Dkt. No. 18 at 3-8 [Def.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Defendant argues that the ALJ properly evaluated the medical evidence in determining Plaintiff's RFC. (Id. at 9-18.) Third, and finally, Defendant argues that the ALJ properly assessed Plaintiff's credibility. (Id. at 18-22.)

III. RELEVANT LEGAL ...


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