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Wiemers v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

December 22, 2017

KURTIS TODD WIEMERS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration; Defendant.

          ORDER

          Cheryl R. Zwart United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Kurtis T. Wiemers (“Wiemers”), seeks review of the decision by the defendant, Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the “Commissioner”), denying his application for Social Security disability insurance and benefits under Title II of the Act. See 42 U.S.C. § 1381. After carefully reviewing the record, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Wiemers applied for Title II disability and disability insurance benefits on April 11, 2013, claiming he is unable to work due to disability beginning April 17, 2012. (Filing No. 22-2 at CM/ECF p. 19). Wiemers subsequently amended his disability onset date to March 7, 2012. (Id.). Wiemers' claim was denied on July 25, 2013. Upon reconsideration, the claim was again denied on March 13, 2014. Plaintiff then filed a written request for a hearing. Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) J. Doug Wolfe presided over a video hearing, in accordance with 20 C.F.R. 404.936(c), on March 4, 2015. Wiemers was represented by attorney Mary Kay Hansen.

         ALJ Wolfe issued his written opinion on April 15, 2015, finding that Wiemers was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). (Id. at CM/ECF p. 16). On June 28, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Wiemers request for review. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 2). Wiemers timely appealed the Commissioner's final decision to this court on August 30, 2016. (Filing No. 1).

         II. THE ALJ'S DECISION

         The ALJ evaluated Johnson's claim through the five-step sequential evaluation process to determine whether Johnson was disabled. 20 C.F.R. §416.920(a)(4). As reflected in his decision, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2013.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period from his alleged onset date of March 7, 2012 through his date last insured of December 31, 2013. (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, claimant had the following severe impairments: degenerative lumbar disc disease status post two surgeries on disc L5, bipolar disorder, and a generalized anxiety disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). However, claimant is physically limited to performing postural activities for one-third (1/3) of an eight (8) hour work day and is mentally limited to simple unskilled work.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work. (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on August 7, 1971 and was 42 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is "not disabled, " whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Through the dated last insured, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could have performed (20 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from March 7, 2012, the alleged onset date, through December 31, 2013, the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1520(g)).

         III. ISSUES RAISED FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

         Wiemers requests judicial review of the ALJ's decision. In his complaint (Filing No. 1), and his filing in opposition to Defendant's motion to affirm, (Filing No. 31), Wiemers raises the following arguments in favor of reversal:

1. Whether the Commissioner afforded appropriate weight to the treating-source opinions of Dr. Glenn and Dr. Tatay.
2. Whether the Commissioner afforded appropriate weight to the opinion of consultative examiner Dr. Meyer.
3. Whether the Commissioner's ultimate decision was supported by substantial evidence.

         IV. THE RECORD AND PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE ALJ

         Wiemers was 42-years-old on the date he last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act. (Filing No. 22-2 at CM/ECF p. 30) Wiemers, a high school graduate, is able to communicate in English. He has past relevant work experience as a heavy truck driver ...


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