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Stumon v. Colvin

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

December 11, 2014

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


NANETTE K. LAUGHREY, District Judge.

Plaintiff Quinton L. Stumon appeals the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision denying his applications for disability and disability insurance benefits under 42 U.S.C. §§ 216(ii) and 223(d); disabled widower's benefits under 42 U.S.C. §§ 202(f) and 223(d); and supplemental security income 42 U.S.C. § 1614(a)(3)(A). The Commissioner's decision is affirmed.

I. Background

Stumon was born in 1961 and was 49 years old on the alleged disability onset date of February 15, 2011. He claimed disability based on ulcers, drug addiction, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, an eating disorder, and problems with attention, concentration, and memory. His present appeal focuses on issues relating to his mental limitations and past employment activity.

Stumon has a ninth grade education, and claims he was in special education classes from sixth through ninth grade. He began using alcohol at 14 and crack cocaine at 26. He claimed drug addiction prevented him from working, but that he stopped using alcohol and drugs in July 2011. He has been incarcerated three times, the last time in 2007, and has been in and out of county jails most of his life. He had been married for almost 20 years when his wife passed away in 2011.

Stumon has reported earnings and work activity over more than 30 years, including after the alleged disability onset date. His jobs included production assembler in 2005, 2006, and 2007, where he was paid $9 per hour, and worked up to 40 hours a week on and off. He has obtained work through a temporary employment agency. Most recently, in 2012, he worked as a cook's helper at a bar, and did lawn care work at homes near his own.

Stumon lives alone and does all his own cooking, cleaning, laundry, and yard work. He does not need any special reminders to take care of his personal needs, take medicine, or attend doctor appointments. He rides the bus almost every day. His hobbies are playing pool, swimming, playing basketball and watching television. He takes care of his ailing mother on a daily basis, cleans, does her laundry, and picks up her prescriptions. Stumon testified that he struggles with mathematics, reading and writing. He can read, though with difficulty, and relied on friends and family to help him understand written communication. The ALJ observed that Stumon did not have any difficulty concentrating or paying attention during the hearing, appeared to process the questions without difficulty, and responded to the questions appropriately and without delay.

On October 27, 2011, John Keough, M.A., performed a consultative psychological examination at the request of the state agency. Mr. Keough opined that Stumon appeared to be functioning in the borderline range of intellectual functioning. Stumon's memory function appeared to be adequate. His ability to understand and remember instructions, on a sustained basis and as necessary to make routine workrelated decisions without supervision, was somewhere between the simple to moderate level of complexity, as long as he was not using alcohol or other street drugs. His ability to sustain concentration, be persistent in tasks and maintain an adequate pace in productive activity, necessary to be gainfully employed working 40 hours a week, in a mainstream work-related environment, for a duration of at least 12 months, would be adequate in a low stress and low-demand work setting. His ability to adapt to the work environment, respond appropriately to supervision in a work setting, adjust to changes in routine, and interact socially in an appropriate manner, appeared to be moderately impaired by a mood disorder, anxiety, impulse-control issues, personality deficits, and a long history of substance abuse and dependence. Mr. Keough assessed a global assessment of functioning (GAF) score of 55 to 70, indicating mild to moderate symptoms or difficulty functioning. The ALJ gave the consultative examiner's opinion significant weight.

On November 8, 2011, Phillip Rosenshield, Ph.D., a non-examining consultant, completed a Mental Residual Function Capacity Assessment. Dr. Rosenshield opined that in the absence of drugs and alcohol, Stumon is capable of concentrating sufficiently well to perform simple, repetitive work tasks in a timely manner without special supervision, and to adapt to changes in the work setting. He is capable of engaging in superficially appropriate interactions with coworkers, supervisors and the general public, although he would perform most effectively in work situations that only require limited social contact. Dr. Rosenshield did not find that Stumon met any of the requirements of Listing 12.05, mental retardation, one of the categories covered by the Mental Residual Function Capacity Assessment form. [Tr. 366]. The ALJ gave the consultant's opinion significant weight.

The ALJ found Stumon had severe impairments that included cervical degenerative disc disease; right shoulder paresthesia; mood disorder not otherwise specified; anxiety disorder not otherwise specified; impulse control disorder not otherwise specified; alcohol dependence; polysubstance abuse dependence; personality disorder not otherwise specified with emphasis on cluster B traits; and borderline intellectual functioning. The ALJ found Stumon did not have any impairment or combination of impairments listed in or medically equal to a listing in 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P, appendix 1. To give Stumon "the benefit of every doubt, " the ALJ included limitations in the RFC involving written communications and mathematics. [Tr. 22].

The ALJ determined that Stumon retained the RFC to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)[1] and Social Security Ruling 83-10; he could lift, carry, push, and pull 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; and sit, stand, and walk for up to six hours during an eight-hour workday. Stumon could not perform overhead reaching with the right upper extremity; was limited to frequent fingering and handling with the right upper extremity; was limited to work that did not require written communication or more than simple math; and was limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks. He was to avoid interaction with the public, and could tolerate only occasional supervision. Finally, he could work around co-workers throughout the day, but must have only occasional interaction with co-workers.

The vocational expert classified Stumon's past work as a production assembler as light, unskilled work with a specific vocational preparation (SVP) of 2 as generally performed pursuant to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT)[2] and as actually performed by Stumon.

The ALJ concluded Stumon was not disabled, on two bases. The ALJ found that, based on the evidence of record, Stumon's work as a production assembler was past relevant work because Stumon performed it within 15 years of the date of the decision, activities. If someone can do light work, we determine that he or she can also do sedentary work, unless there are additional limiting factors such as loss of fine dexterity or inability to sit for long periods of time." 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(b) and 416.927(b). for a sufficient length of time to learn and provide average performance, and at the level of substantial gainful activity. The ALJ found that Stumon could perform his past work as production assembler.

The ALJ proceeded to address, alternatively, whether Stumon's impairments would preclude him from performing other work, and concluded they would not. The ALJ found Stumon could perform the representative occupations of cleaner and housekeeper, routing clerk, and collator operator, jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy.

After the ALJ's decision was issued, at his attorney's request, Stumon had IQ testing performed by John T. Bopp, Ph.D., a psychologist. Dr. Bopp determined Stumon had a full-scale IQ score of 62, within the range of mild mental retardation. The information was submitted to the Appeals Council.

On March 8, 2014, the Appeals Council denied Stumon's ...

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