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McKay v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

November 24, 2014

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant

For Roland Eugene McKay, Jr., Plaintiff: Robert A. Clarke, Blue Springs, MO.

For Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant: OGCSSAR7, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of General Counsel-SSA Region 7, Kansas City, MO; Jeffrey P. Ray, LEAD ATTORNEY, United States Attorney's Office-KCMO, Kansas City, MO.


NANETTE K. LAUGHREY, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Ronald Eugene McKay, Jr., seeks review of the Administrative Law Judge's decision denying his application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. For the following reasons, the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is affirmed.

I. Background

McKay filed an application for SSDI benefits on January 25, 2011, alleging an onset date of October 27, 1995. [Tr. 124]. McKay's date of last insured was June 30, 2000. [Tr. 60]. The record contains ambiguous evidence suggesting that this was McKay's second application for SSDI benefits, his first application for benefits having been made in 1995 or 1996. [Tr. 127]. McKay notes that " [t]he 1996 application apparently allowed a closed period of disability that ran to April 1997 but that cannot be affirmatively stated one way or another as the record is incomplete." [Doc. 9, p. 2].

McKay's 2011 application for SSDI benefits requests benefits due to ongoing health problems arising from injuries sustained due to a sixteen foot fall McKay suffered in 1995. McKay's claims that he suffers from ongoing medical conditions including: head and neck injury with LeForte II fracture treated with closed reduction and arch bar stabilization; headaches from treatment; distal comminuted right radius fracture treated with open reduction and internal fixation, external fixation and release of the carpal tunnel, with chronic right wrist pain with expected degenerative changes of the right wrist and loss of motion; injury to his left upper extremity that is permanent in nature, a severe comminuted fracture of the radial head at the elbow which was treated with resection, injury to the distal radial ulnar joint which had been treated surgically with ulnar shortening and arthroplasty; severe acetabular fracture with posterior dislocation of the left hip with total hip arthroplasty; and medical chronic low back pain. [Tr. 446-49].

Upon review of the record, the ALJ found that McKay suffered from the following severe impairments through the date of last insured: status post total left hip arthroplasty, status post reduction and pinning of the left wrist, status post open reduction and internal fixation of the right radius, status post right carpal tunnel release, and obesity. [Tr. 14].

In light of McKay's severe impairments, the ALJ noted that McKay had the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC):

[T]o perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) involving lifting and/or carrying 20 occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; standing and/or walking two hours in an eight-hour workday; and sitting six hours in an eight-hour workday. He must be able to alternate between sitting and standing at least every 30 minutes. He could occasionally climb ramps or stairs, but never use ladders, ropes or scaffolds or balance, kneel crouch or crawl. He can occasionally stoop but he must avoid overhead reaching and avoid exposure to extreme cold. The claimant could frequently finger and frequently handle.

[Tr. 15]. To determine McKay's RFC, the ALJ reviewed McKay's medical records from the time immediately following his fall, as well as the medical records through 2000 that addressed McKay's treatment and improvement from his injuries. [Tr. 15-22]. She also considered McKay's testimony at the administrative hearing. Id. The ALJ then concluded based upon the evidence and vocational expert testimony that jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that McKay could perform, including work as a document preparer, weight tester, and order clerk/food beverage. [Tr. 22-23]. The ALJ subsequently denied McKay's request for SSDI benefits. Id.

II. Standard of Review

" [R]eview of the Secretary's decision [is limited] to a determination whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Substantial evidence is evidence which reasonable minds would accept as adequate to support the Secretary's conclusion. [The Court] will not reverse a decision 'simply because some evidence may support the opposite conclusion.'" Mitchell v. Shalala, 25 F.3d 712, 714 (8th Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). Substantial evidence is " more than a mere scintilla" of evidence; rather, it is relevant evidence ...

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