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Bullard v. Colvin

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

September 27, 2016

RYAN BULLARD, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Ryan Bullard brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner's denial of his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act. Bullard alleged that he was disabled because of spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, arthritis in his back, left eye blindness, and left leg and arm numbness. (Tr. 171.)

         An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that, despite Bullard's multiple severe impairments, he was not disabled as he had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy.

         This matter is pending before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, with consent of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). A summary of the entire record is presented in the parties' briefs and is repeated here only to the extent necessary.

         I. Procedural History

         Bullard protectively filed applications for DIB and SSI on October 17, 2011, claiming that he became unable to work due to his disabling condition on March 3, 2009. (Tr. 12, 149-50, 153-58). Bullard's claims were denied initially. (Tr. 84-91.) Following an administrative hearing, Bullard's claims were denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated September 20, 2013. (Tr. 12-23.) Bullard then filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision with the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration (SSA), which was denied on February 24, 2015. (Tr. 8, 1-3.) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. '' 404.981, 416.1481.

         In the instant action, Bullard claims that the ALJ “failed to sufficiently pose the hypothetical to the vocational expert in that he omitted issues of visual acuity and obesity.” (Doc. 22 at 16.)

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ found that Bullard met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2012, and that he has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 3, 2009, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 14.)

         In addition, the ALJ concluded that Bullard had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, obesity, and decreased visual acuity. (Tr. 14.) The ALJ found that Bullard did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. (Tr. 15.)

         As to Bullard's RFC, the ALJ stated:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except that he will be unable to climb ladders, ropes or scaffolding; he can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl; he is to avoid concentrated exposure to extreme vibration and all operational control of moving machinery, working at unprotected heights, and the use of hazardous machinery. The claimant is limited to work that involves only simple, routine and repetitive tasks in a low stress job defined as requiring only occasional decision making and only occasional changes in the work setting with no interaction with the public, only casual and infrequent contact with co-workers, and contact with supervisors concerning work duties (when work duties are being performed satisfactorily) occurring no more than four times per workday.

(Tr. 16.)

         The ALJ found that Bullard's allegations regarding his limitations were not entirely credible. (Tr. 21.) In determining Bullard's RFC, the ALJ indicated that he was assigning “significant weight” to the opinions of two ...


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