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Gaylor v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 17, 2015

SHAWN W. GAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW

WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Shawn W. Gaylor requests judicial review of the final decision of Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner"), denying his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Insurance Benefits ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("the Act"). The Court rules as follows.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Gaylor applied for DIB on November 26, 2001, [1] alleging that he had been disabled since January 5, 2001. His applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, after which he requested and was granted a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Gaylor was represented by counsel at the hearing, which was held on September 10, 2003, before ALJ Harold Atherly. Thereafter, the case was transferred to ALJ Albert J. Velasquez. ALJ Velasquez held a second hearing on April 20, 2004. Gaylor appeared in person and by counsel. The ALJ issued his decision denying Gaylor's application on May 28, 2004. The Appeals Council granted Gaylor's request for review, and on August 6, 2004, remanded the case to the ALJ for further proceedings.

A supplemental hearing-Gaylor's third-was held on March 31, 2005, before ALJ Velasquez, at which Gaylor was again represented by counsel. On August 26, 2005, ALJ Velasquez issued a decision again denying Gaylor's applications. After the Appeals Council denied review of that decision, Gaylor filed a complaint for judicial review on February 6, 2006. On March 16, 2007, Judge David F. Hamilton issued a decision affirming the Commissioner's decision. Gaylor filed a timely appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; on September 8, 2008, the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

On remand, a hearing was held before ALJ Peter C. Americanos-Gaylor's fourth-on June 26, 2009. ALJ Americanos issued his decision denying Gaylor's application on October 21, 2009. Gaylor filed a timely appeal of that decision; he also during this time applied for SSI, and that application, dated April 2010, was consolidated with his original application.

On March 30, 2011, the Appeals Council remanded the matter for further proceedings once again. A hearing was held before ALJ John H. Metz on November 5, 2012; this was Gaylor's fifth hearing and ALJ Metz was the fourth ALJ to hear his case, which had now been dragging on for eleven years. ALJ Metz promptly issued a decision on November 30, 2012, denying Gaylor's applications. After the Appeals Council denied review of that decision, Gaylor filed this timely appeal.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Between Gaylor's brief and the ALJ's decision, the medical facts of record are set out at length and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that Gaylor has been treated for back pain since injuring his back in 1996. He has undergone four surgical procedures on his back, including a right L5-S1 hemilaminotomy, foramintomy, discectomy, canal and nerve root decompression in January 2000 and a combined anterior and posterior spinal fusion from L4 through S1 in October 2002. He also has tried injections and physical therapy; for many years, he has been taking a variety of potent pain medications. In addition to his back condition, Gaylor has been treated for depression and anxiety; he takes medication for those conditions as well.

ALJ Metz found that Gaylor had the following severe impairments: low back pain, hypertension, chronic pain syndrome, head trauma, attention deficit disorder, major depression, anxiety disorder due to general medical condition, and personality disorder. He found that his impairments did not meet or equal a listing and that he had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work. Specifically, he

could lift, carry, push and pull up to twenty pounds occasionally and up to ten pounds frequently; he could sit for two hours at a time and for six hours in an eight hour day; stand for two hours at a time and for six hours during an eight hour day; and walk for two hours at a time and for six hours during an eight-hour day. [Gaylor] is restricted to occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, stair climbing, bending, crouching, crawling, squatting, operation of foot controls and driving. [Gaylor] could never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds, and could never work around unprotected heights. [He] is restricted to performing simple, routine, repetitive tasks. In addition, [he] could tolerate only occasional contact with coworkers, the public and supervisors. [He] must have regular expectations at work and could tolerate no more than moderate-paced work.

Record at 807-08. Given this RFC, the ALJ determined that Gaylor could not perform his past relevant work as a grocery store bagger/hand packager, cashier, store laborer, supervisor of loading and unloading, and die cast operator. However, the ALJ found that there were jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that he could perform, including housekeeper, packing line worker, ampoule sealer, and loader of semiconductor dies. Accordingly, the ALJ found that Gaylor was not disabled as defined by the Social Security Act.

DISCUSSION

Gaylor identifies several ways in which he believes ALJ Metz erred in addressing his claim. The Court need only address one, as it ...


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