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MacK v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

October 3, 2014

CURTIS MACK, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN COLVIN, as Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

Plaintiff Curtis Mack protectively applied for disability insurance benefits from the Social Security Administration ("SSA") on October 28, 2010, alleging a disability onset date of May 20, 2010. [Filing No. 13-5 at 2.] His application was initially denied on February 8, 2011, and denied again upon review on April 29, 2011. A hearing was held on June 20, 2012, in front of Administrative Law Judge Mario G. Silva (the "ALJ"). [Filing No. 13-2 at 30-57.] On July 20, 2012, the ALJ determined that Mr. Mack was not entitled to disability benefits. [Filing No. 13-2 at 17-26.] The Appeals Council denied review on September 26, 2013, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's "final decision" subject to judicial review. [Filing No. 13-2 at 6-8.] Mr. Mack has filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), asking the Court to review his denial of benefits. [Filing No. 1.]

I. BACKGROUND

Mr. Mack was forty-seven years old when he applied for disability benefits on October 28, 2010, alleging an onset date of May 20, 2010. [Filing No. 13-5 at 2.] He has been unemployed since his onset date. [Filing No. 13-2 at 35.] Previously, Mr. Mack worked as a forklift operator and a truck driver. [Filing No. 13-2 at 48-49.] He claims that he is disabled because of a variety of physical impairments, including back impairments and migraine headaches.[1] [Filing No. 17 at 3.]

Using the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the SSA in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4), the ALJ issued an opinion on July 20, 2012. [Filing No. 13-2 at 17-26.] The ALJ found as follows:

• At Step One of the analysis, the ALJ found that Mr. Mack had not engaged in substantial gainful activity[2] after the alleged disability onset date. [Filing No. 13-2 at 20.]
• At Step Two of the analysis, the ALJ found that Mr. Mack suffered from the severe impairments of degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spines, right shoulder degenerative joint disease, and headaches. [Filing No. 13-2 at 20.]
• At Step Three of the analysis, the ALJ found that Mr. Mack did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments. [Filing No. 13-2 at 20.]
• The ALJ concluded that Mr. Mack had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform less than the full range of light work. [Filing No. 13-2 at 20.] Specifically, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Mack can lift/carry and push/pull up to ten pounds frequently and twenty pounds occasionally, sit a total of about six hours in an eight-hour workday, and stand/walk a total of about six hours in an eight-hour workday. Mr. Mack must have the ability to alternate between the sitting and standing positions throughout the workday. The ALJ also concluded that Mr. Mack can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, but he can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Mr. Mack can occasionally balance and stoop, but he can never kneel, crouch, or crawl. Mr. Mack can occasionally rotate his neck and reach/lift overhead with his bilateral upper extremities. Mr. Mack must avoid moderate exposure to wetness, concentrated exposure to vibrations, and moderate exposure to hazards, such as dangerous moving machinery or unprotected heights. Finally, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Mack can understand, remember, and carryout simple instructions; he can make judgments on simple work related decisions; he can interact appropriately with supervisors and coworkers in a routine work setting; and he can respond to usual situations in a routine work setting. [Filing No. 13-2 at 20.]
• At Step Four of the analysis, the ALJ found that Mr. Mack was unable to perform any of his past relevant work. [Filing No. 13-2 at 25.]
• At Step Five of the analysis, the ALJ found that, considering Mr. Mack's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that he can perform. For example, the ALJ found that Mr. Mack would be capable of working as a routing clerk, marker, or mail clerk. [Filing No. 13-2 at 25-26.]
• Based on these findings, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Mack was not disabled. [Filing No. 13-2 at 26.]

Mr. Mack requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision, but the Council denied the request on September 26, 2013. [Filing No. 13-2 at 6-8.] That decision is the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of judicial review, and ...


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