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Wiley v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 26, 2015

EARL WILEY, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


TERRY I. ADELMAN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Earl Wiley brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying his claim for supplemental security income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381, et seq. All matters are pending before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, with consent of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Because the Commissioner's final decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, it is affirmed.

I. Procedural History

On March 3, 2011, the Social Security Administration denied plaintiff's November 12, 2010, application for SSI, in which plaintiff claimed he was disabled because of depression, psychosis, anxiety, gout, broken elbow, and swelling and pain of the feet and hands. (Tr. 55, 57-61, 114-18, 144.) At plaintiff's request, a hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ) on July 3, 2012, at which plaintiff and a vocational expert testified. (Tr. 24-44.) On August 21, 2012, the ALJ denied plaintiff's claim for benefits, finding vocational expert testimony to support a finding that plaintiff could perform work as it exists in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 8-20.) On January 2, 2014, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 1-5.) The ALJ's decision is thus the final decision of the Commissioner. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

In this action for judicial review, plaintiff claims that the ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Plaintiff specifically argues that the ALJ erred by relying on one-time evaluations to find plaintiff not disabled. Plaintiff also contends that the ALJ erred in determining his residual functional capacity (RFC) by failing to identify the evidence of record that supported her RFC findings. Plaintiff argues further that the evidence fails to support the RFC findings. Finally, plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred when she failed to include physical limitations in the RFC despite finding plaintiff to suffer from severe physical impairments. Plaintiff requests that the matter be reversed and remanded for an award of benefits or for further evaluation. For the reasons that follow, the ALJ did not err in her determination.

II. Testimonial Evidence Before the ALJ

A. Plaintiff's Testimony

At the hearing on July 3, 2012, plaintiff testified in response to questions posed by the ALJ and counsel. Plaintiff was fifty-one years of age at the time of the hearing.

Plaintiff testified that he currently lives in a house with his sister. (Tr. 27, 37.) He completed the eleventh grade in high school and did not obtain his GED. (Tr. 27-28.) Plaintiff's Work History Report shows that plaintiff worked as a laborer unloading trucks at a warehouse from April 1996 to April 1998. Plaintiff was self-employed working on cars from 2000 to 2010. (Tr. 167.) Plaintiff testified that he currently performs jobs such as cutting grass, painting houses, and working on cars. (Tr. 28-29.)

Plaintiff testified that he suffers from depression and bipolar disorder and that the conditions make him unaware of his actions. Plaintiff testified that he experiences episodes about twice a week where he does things and does not remember. Plaintiff testified that he has a poor memory. Plaintiff testified that he walks around on good days and does not feel like doing anything on bad days. Plaintiff sits and watches television on bad days. Plaintiff has no difficulty going out in public. (Tr. 32-34.)

Plaintiff testified that he also has schizophrenia and has heard voices for three or four years. Plaintiff testified that he hears voices about three days a week, and they tell him to hurt himself. (Tr. 34-35.) Plaintiff testified that he previously attempted suicide by hanging and that his sister found him. (Tr. 36.)

Plaintiff takes medication for his mental conditions that somewhat helps. Plaintiff testified that his sister reminds him to take his medication. (Tr. 35.)

As to his physical impairments, plaintiff testified that he has arthritis in his hands, which sometimes causes numbness. Plaintiff has had this condition for four or five years. (Tr. 32.) Plaintiff testified that his hands become numb after doing dishes for ten or fifteen minutes, and they stay numb for about an hour. Plaintiff's hands also become numb when they are cold, and he sometimes cannot move them. Plaintiff testified that he cannot do tasks around the house without experiencing pain in his hands. He can lift a gallon of milk with his left hand and a loaf of bread with his right hand. (Tr. 37-38.)

Plaintiff testified that he cannot cook his own meals, go to the store, handle money, or do his laundry. Plaintiff's sister cooks for him and takes him to various appointments. Plaintiff testified that he sometimes goes a week without showering and his sister reminds him to shower. (Tr. 36-37.)

B. Vocational Expert Testimony

Delores Gonzales, a vocational expert, testified at the hearing in response to questions ...

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