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Sexton v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

May 19, 2014

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

For Timothy Dean Sexton, Plaintiff: Ginger J. Largen, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morefield & Largen PLC, Abingdon, VA.

For Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner Social Security Administration, Defendant: Robert S. Drum, Office of General Counsel, SSA, Philadelphia, PA.


Page 640


Hon. Glen E. Conrad, Chief United States District Judge.

Plaintiff has filed this action challenging the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff's claim for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § § 416(i) and 423. Jurisdiction of this court is pursuant to § 205(g) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). As reflected by the memoranda and argument submitted by the parties, the issues now before the court are whether the Commissioner's final decision is supported by substantial evidence, or whether there is " good cause" as to necessitate remanding the case to the Commissioner for further consideration. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

The plaintiff, Timothy Dean Sexton, was born on November 10, 1979, and eventually completed the twelfth grade in school. Mr. Sexton has worked as a machine loader in the textile industry, furniture factory loader, production worker, shipping loader, tree trimmer, and hardwood flooring installer. He last worked in 2009. On January 13, 2010, Mr. Sexton filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits. Plaintiff alleged that he became disabled for all forms of substantial gainful employment on July 31, 2009, due to severe depression and anxiety; borderline personality disorder; lack of focus; sleeping problems; and " surreal nightmares." (TR 380). Plaintiff now maintains that he has remained disabled to the present time. As to his application for disability insurance benefits, the record reveals that Mr. Sexton met the insured status requirements of the Act at all relevant times covered by the final decision of the Commissioner. (TR 179). See generally 42 U.S.C. § § 416(i) and 423(a).

Mr. Sexton's claims were denied upon initial consideration and reconsideration. He then requested and received a de novo hearing and review before an Administrative Law Judge. In an opinion dated July 11, 2012, the Law Judge also determined that plaintiff is not disabled. The Law Judge determined that plaintiff suffers from several severe impairments, outlined by the Law Judge as follows:

The claimant has medically determinable severe impairments including Chronic Lumbar Strain with degenerative disc disease and mild left sciatica, status-post lumbar laminectomy/diskectomy in March, 2011; Left shoulder strain with Degenerative joint disease; recurrent ganglion cyst both wrists; Possible post-traumatic degenerative joint disease right ankle and knee; Hypertension; Obesity; Schizoaffective disorder; Major depressive disorder, recurrent, mild; Anxiety disorder not otherwise specified; Borderline personality disorder; and Panic attacks while incarcerated, as set forth in the body of this Decision, but his impairment(s) does not meet or equal in severity the criteria of any impairment found in the Listing of Impairments at Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulations Part 404.

(TR 179). Because of these impairments, the Law Judge ruled that Mr. Sexton is disabled for all of his past relevant work

Page 641

roles. However, the Law Judge found that plaintiff retains the capacity to perform a limited range of light work activity. The Law Judge assessed Mr. Sexton's residual functional capacity as follows:

Beginning July 31, 2009, through at least the date of this Decision, the claimant has retained the residual functional capacity to perform a reduced range of unskilled, light exertional work activity. He retains the ability to lift and/or carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk up to six hours in an eight hour workday, and sit for up to six hours during the workday. He is precluded from continuous operation of hand controls, and from continuous operation of foot controls with the right foot. He can occasionally perform climbing, balancing, stooping, kneeling, and crouching, but should avoid any crawling, and avoid exposure to heights and hazards such as dangerous moving machinery. Moderate impairment in his ability to sustain concentration, persistence, or pace, limit him to performing no more than simple types of job instructions and directions.

(TR 179). Given such a residual functional capacity, and after considering plaintiff's age, education, and prior work experience, as well as testimony from a vocational expert, the Law Judge ruled that plaintiff retains sufficient capacity to perform several specific light work roles existing in significant number in the national economy. Accordingly, the Law Judge ultimately concluded that Mr. Sexton is not disabled, and that he is not entitled to benefits under either federal program. See generally 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g). The Law Judge's opinion was adopted as the final decision of the ...

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