United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
Lamont D. Johnson (“Johnson”) requests judicial
review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”), denying his application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act (the “Act”). For
the following reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the
decision of the Commissioner.
April 1, 2013, Johnson filed an application for SSI, alleging
a disability onset beginning June 1, 2007. The initial claim
was denied on June 3, 2013, and again on reconsideration on
August 21, 2013. (Filing No. 19-4 at 11.) Johnson
filed a timely request for a hearing on August 26, 2013.
(Filing No. 19-4 at 18.) He appeared and testified
at a hearing held before Administrative Law Judge James R.
Norris (the “ALJ”) on November 4, 2014. On
November 25, 2014, the ALJ issued a written decision denying
Johnson's applications for SSI. (Filing No. 19-2 at
18.) Johnson requested review by the Appeals Council,
which denied the request on April 28, 2016, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner for
purposes of judicial review. (Filing No. 19-2 at 2.)
On June 13, 2016, Johnson filed this action for judicial
review of the ALJ's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). (Filing No. 1.)
was born in 1980 and was 26 years old at the time of his
alleged disability onset. He was 33 years old at the time of
the ALJ's decision and is now 37 years old. Johnson
attended school through the tenth or eleventh grade
(Filing No. 19-8 at 78), and participated in
multiple special education classes (Filing No. 19-6 at
44). His only work history occurred between 1997 and
2001, when he was employed full-time as a janitor.
(Filing No. 19-5 at 22.) He has not held employment
since. (Filing No. 19-2 at 51.)
April 2008, Johnson sustained a gunshot injury to his left
elbow. (Filing No. 19-8 at 35.) He underwent surgery
and was evaluated by an occupational therapist afterwards,
but he did not make recurring visits. Id. at 41, 46.
In September 2009, Johnson was bitten on the arm by a police
dog. Id. at 51. Medical records indicate a limited
range of motion in his elbow as the result of pain, but
findings were otherwise unremarkable. Id. at 52.
Johnson again consulted with an occupational therapist, but
there are no records of follow-up or evidence of functional
limitations regarding the dog bite. Id. at 57.
initial application for benefits, Johnson claimed disability
as the result of the gunshot injury, the dog bite injury, and
illiteracy. (Filing No. 19-6 at 2.) Physically, he
reported that his left arm “tingles and locks up”
and “does not have very much strength.”
Id. at 8. Functionally, Johnson noted that he
“can't fill out applications” and “had
trouble working” because he “never learned how to
read” when he was in school. Id. As part of
the disability process, Johnson underwent a medical
consultative examination in January 2010. The examiner, Dr.
Bilal Safadi, noted that Johnson was not in apparent distress
and was able to get on and off the examination table.
Findings from the visit were unremarkable other than
notations of both diminished strength in Johnson's upper
left extremity and decreased grip strength in Johnson's
left hand. (Filing No. 19-8 at 21.) Johnson
underwent a second consultative examination in March 2013,
conducted by Dr. Mauro Agnelneri. Dr. Agnelneri found no
impairment relating to Johnson's gunshot wounds and noted
unremarkable findings concerning Johnson's upper
extremities. Id. at 97-98. Dr. Agnelneri further
reported that Johnson followed simple and complex directions
and commands without difficulty, had intact recent and remote
memory, and had grossly normal intellectual functioning
(Filing No. 19-9 at 96). Finally, Johnson attended a
third medical consultative examination in June 2014 with Dr.
Diane Elrod. Clinical findings were unremarkable beyond
Johnson's reports of “chronic pain”.
Id. at 100-02.
underwent psychological examinations as well. During one such
examination, with Dr. Herbert Henry (“Dr. Henry”)
in January 2007, he reported he was unable to work because
his inability to read, spell, and write kept him from filling
out job applications. Id. at 109. Education records
indicate that Johnson attended special education classes and
performed below grade level while in school. (Filing No.
19-6 at 46, 51.) Cognitive testing conducted in a second
psychological examination in 2014, when Johnson was 33,
revealed Johnson's full scale IQ as 62-in the
“extremely low” range of intellectual
functioning. (Filing No. 19-9 at 3.) In a 2014
consultative examination, conducted by Dr. Jason Hankee
(“Dr. Hankee”), Johnson was also diagnosed with
depressive disorder, anti-social personality features, and
mild intellectual disability. Id. Dr. Hankee
completed a medical source statement form and indicated that
Johnson had mild-to-moderate restrictions in his ability to
understand, remember, and carry out instructions; and had
only mild restrictions in his ability to interact
appropriately with supervision, co-workers, and the public,
as well as respond to changes in the routine work setting.
(Filing No. 19-9 at 7-8).
hearing before the ALJ, Dr. Mark Farber, an independent
medical expert, testified that Johnson had left arm pain and
limitations due to his gunshot wound but no medically
determinable physical impairments. (Filing No. 19-2 at
42.) Dr. Farber testified that, based upon his review of
the medical record, no objective or clinical evidence exists
to support Johnson's alleged restrictions or pain.
Id. at 43.
addition, impartial psychological expert Dr. James Brooks
(“Dr. Brooks”) testified at the hearing. Dr.
Brooks found that, at the time of the hearing, Johnson's
mental impairments included borderline intellectual
functioning, depressive disorder, and anti-social disorder.
Id. at 47. Dr. Brooks concluded that Johnson had
mild limitations in his ability to maintain concentration,
persistence, and pace. Id. As a result, Dr. Brooks
concluded that Johnson was able to perform simple, repetitive
tasks and have occasional contact with others. Id.
The ALJ's Decision
first determined that Johnson met the insured status
requirement of the Act through December 31, 2017. The ALJ
then began the five-step analysis. At step one, the ALJ found
that Johnson had not been involved in substantial gainful
activity since April 1, 2013, the application date.
(Filing No. 19-2 at 23.) At step two, the ALJ found
that Johnson had “the following severe impairments:
pain residuals of gunshot wound, depression, anti-social
personality disorder, and borderline intellectual
functioning.” Id. The ALJ also found that
Johnson had a non-severe impairment “consisting of dog
bite.” Id. at 23-24. At step three, the ALJ
concluded that Johnson does not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Id. at 24.
then determined that, while Johnson had no past relevant
work, he had a residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform medium work in the form of
simple and repetitive tasks, with superficial or occasional
interaction with others and allowance for oral and
demonstrative instructions. Id. at 26. At step five,
the ALJ determined that Johnson was not disabled because
there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy that Johnson could perform, considering his
age, education, work experience, and RFC. These jobs include
dishwasher, hospital cleaner, and janitor. Id. at
32. Therefore, the ALJ denied Johnson's application for
SSI because he was found to be not disabled.
DISABILITY AND ...