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Bonner v. Colvin

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

August 4, 2017

ELBERT BONNER, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's request for judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the final decision of Defendant denying Plaintiff's application for disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq., and for supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (Act), 42 U.S.C. §§1381, et seq. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will affirm the Commissioner's denial of Plaintiff's applications.

         Facts and Background

         On April 22, 2015, Administrative Law Judge Bradley L. Davis conducted a video hearing at Hannibal, Missouri. Plaintiff appeared in person and the Vocational Expert, Janice Weaver, appeared by phone.

         Plaintiff was born on January 3, 1965, and was 50 years old at the time of the hearing. Plaintiff resides by himself, albeit with relatives and friends between St. Louis and Hannibal, and is a widower. Plaintiff completed high school through receipt of his GED.

         Plaintiff has prior work experience as a unit leader in a factory that produced Dove soap. He also has work experience at Beth Haven as a CNA. He also had a position at Unilever for a brief period, although the testimony did not reflect what duties he performed at that employer. His last work experience, in 2013, was that of the unit leader manufacturing and producing Dove.

         Examination by the counsel for Plaintiff disclosed that he had two strokes in 2013. One occurred in May and a second occurred in August. As a consequence of the strokes Plaintiff testified that both sides of his body were affected and the second stroke, the right side, has demonstrated the most severe impact. The testimony shows that the Plaintiff was partially blinded, lost peripheral vision on the right side of both eyes. He describes this as an inability to see the right side of objects. It also left him with hyperesthesia, which causes constant pain. Testimony also revealed Plaintiff has suffered from Bell's palsy since 2010, and he asserts the strokes aggravated that condition.

         Plaintiff does not use a cane in walking but does use a walker from time to time to assist in balance, especially if he is walking three or four blocks. When he walks he experiences great pain and discomfort under the right foot.

         Counsel for Plaintiff also elicited testimony that Plaintiff has difficulty sleeping due to the pain, as well as difficulty getting undressed. There was also testimony that Plaintiff feels pain, as described, when lifting but it does not affect the amount of weight he can lift.

         The ALJ also heard testimony that the Plaintiff has difficulty remembering things over short periods. An example offered was relating to cooking and that it might not be unusual for him to forget he has something in the oven or on the stove.

         There was testimony from Janice Weaver, the Vocational Expert. Weaver testified and classified the past work experience of the Plaintiff in relation to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Based upon all of those considerations and the stated hypotheticals of the ALJ, including stated limitations, the Vocational Expert concluded there were jobs at the light work level available for Plaintiff as an assembler, small products II, folding machine operator in the clerical industry, garment sorter in the garment industry, reel assembler, and laborer, stores jobs.

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to a finding of disabled. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on February 2, 2016. The decision of the ALJ is now the final decision for review by this court.

         Statement of Issues

         The issues in a Social Security case are whether the final decision of the Commissioner is consistent with the Social Security Act, regulations, and applicable case law, and whether the findings of fact by the ALJ are supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Here the Plaintiff asserts, by focusing on his physical functionality, that the ...


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