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Farrar v. Colvin

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

September 28, 2016

BRUCE FARRAR, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.



         Plaintiff Bruce Farrar brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner's denial of his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Farrar alleged that he was disabled because of depression, broken chest bones, panic disorder, back injury, anxiety, torn right rotator cuff, “ankles and knees bad, ” and chronic joint pain. (Tr. 258.)

         An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that, despite Farrar's multiple severe physical and mental 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

         Farrar protectively filed his application for DIB on March 1, 2012, and his application for SSI on March 6, 2012. (Tr. 137-38.) His claims were denied initially. (Tr. 147-53.) Following an administrative hearing, Farrar's claims were denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated February 20, 2014. (Tr. 10-25.) Farrar 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 June 15, 2015. (Tr. 6, 1-5.) 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, Farrar first claims that the ALJ erred “by failing to weigh the opinion of the treating physician, Dr. Arshad.” (Doc. 12 at 8.) Farrar next argues that the ALJ erred by “failing to include limitations in Farrar's ability to interact with co-workers or supervisors, despite finding that Farrar would be limited in this area.” Id. at 12.

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ found that Farrar has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 1, 2011, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 12.)

         In addition, the ALJ concluded that Farrar had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease of the spinal areas, a history of vertebral fractures, scoliosis, right shoulder degenerative joint disease and supraspinatus/infraspinatus tendinosis with degenerative changes including intra-articular biceps tendinosis and degeneration/tear of the right glenoid labrum, seizures without Xanax, [1] arthritis, a history of a left arm fracture, a history of a left ankle fracture, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease, hypertension, obesity, anxiety with panic, agoraphobia, depression, and bipolar disorder. (Tr. 13.) The ALJ found that Farrar did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. Id.

         As to Farrar'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 it also includes these nonexertional capabilities and limitations: no climbing of ropes, ladders or scaffolds; occasionally climbing ramps and stairs and stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling; occasional overhead reaching with the dominant right upper extremity, frequent (but not constant) handling and fingering using the upper extremities; no exposure to extreme heat, cold, or humidity; no whole body vibrations; no operation of motor vehicles; no sampling or tasting of foods or beverages so as not to interfere with a recommended diet; no working around uncontrolled access to alcohol or controlled substances; not having exposure to hazards of unprotected heights or dangerous moving machinery; doing tasks and instructions with an SVP of 2 or less and ones requiring a reduced stress environment, defined as having to make occasional commensurate decisions and no more than occasional changes in routine in a normal work setting; and having occasional superficial interaction with the general public, away from crowds. Light work involves standing and walking at least 6 hours out of an 8-hour day, and lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling no more than 20 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds. 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b).

(Tr. 15-16.)

         In determining Farrar's RFC, the ALJ discussed the opinions of treating physician Dr. Abdullah Arshad, M.D.; psychologist Price Gholsen, Psy.D.; and psychiatrist Jim Pang, M.D. (Tr. 19, 21.) The ALJ also found that Farrar's subjective allegations were not entirely credible. (Tr. 22.)

         The ALJ further found that Farrar was unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. 23.) The ALJ noted that a vocational expert testified that Farrar could perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, such as semi-conductor bonder, table worker, bench preparer, call-out operators, charge account clerk, and telephone quotation clerk. (Tr. 24.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Farrar has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from April 1, 2011, through the date of the decision. Id.

         The ALJ's final decision reads as follows:

Based on the application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits filed on March 1, 2012, the claimant is not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act.
Based on the application for supplemental security income filed on June 15, 2012, the claimant is not disabled under section ...

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