United States District Court, D. Arizona
A. Bowman, United States Magistrate Judge.
plaintiff filed this action for review of the final decision
of the Commissioner for Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). (Doc. 1, p. 1)
Magistrate Judge presides over this case pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c) having received the written consent of
both parties. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 73; (Doc. 14)
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
January of 2014, Smith filed an application for disability
insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social
Security Act. (Tr. 157) He alleged disability beginning on
November 1, 2013, due to cervical dystonia [involuntary
muscle contractions], acid reflux, anxiety, depression,
“explosive disorder, ” sleep problems, and
uncontrolled movements of head and hands. (Tr. 157, 214)
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
(Tr. 93-96); (Tr. 102-104) Smith requested review and
appeared with counsel at a hearing before Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) MaryAnn Lunderman on May 3, 2016. (Tr. 44) In her
decision, dated July 15, 2016, the ALJ found Smith was not
disabled because, considering his age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, he could work
in assembly, DOT # 725.684-018. (Tr. 21-37)
appealed, but on September 22, 2017, the Appeals Council
denied review making the decision of the ALJ the final
decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-4) Smith subsequently
filed this action seeking review of that final decision.
Work History and Medical History
was 44 years old at the hearing before the ALJ. (Tr. 48) He
attended technical school while in the Air Force and worked
as a medical technologist. (Tr. 49-50) He also earned a
certificate from the Tucson College of Business. (Tr. 49)
over 16 years, Smith worked as a phlebotomist. (Tr. 50) One
day at work, he “was very mad” and was
“asked to leave the premises by security.” (Tr.
50); (Tr. 318) He voluntarily quit rather than being fired.
(Tr. 51) This incident appears to mark his alleged disability
onset date. (Tr. 318); (Tr. 157, 214)
testified at the hearing that he cannot work now because his
“knees are gone” and he has
“fibromyalgia.” (Tr. 51) He has insomnia, vomits
frequently, and urinates frequently. (Tr. 52) He has tremors
in his neck from cervical dystonia, which was aggravated by a
traffic accident. (Tr. 52); (Tr. 316); (Tr. 687) He has pain
in his right hand that causes him difficulty writing. (Tr.
also has mental impairments. He suffers from depression,
anxiety, and paranoid delusions. (Tr. 555) In June of 2014,
he was given emergency mental health treatment when he stated
that he had a gun and wanted to kill himself. (Tr. 55); (Tr.
asked about his functional limitations, Smith testified that
he can only lift 10 pounds, sit for 15 to 30 minutes, walk a
block and a half, and stand for 30 minutes. (Tr. 53-54) He
can clean his bathroom and do his own laundry. (Tr. 54) His
mother does all of the cooking. (Tr. 54)
Van Vleet testified as a vocational expert. (Tr. 58) She
explained that Smith's work as a phlebotomist was light,
semi-skilled work. (Tr. 59) She testified that a person
“limited to simple tasks with no more than occasional,
brief, intermittent, business-related contact with the
public” could not perform that job. (Tr. 59)
(punctuation modified) Van Vleet further testified that a
person with Smith's age, education, and work experience
would be disabled if he were limited to standing or walking 2
hours per day; sitting 30 minutes at one time; lifting up to
10 pounds; and “frequent” reaching, feeling,
fingering, handling, grasping, kneeling, and crouching. (Tr.
60) But if that person could sit for at least 1 hour at a
time and could use his upper extremities on a
“continuous” basis, he could work in assembly,
DOT # 725.684-018. (Tr. 61)
of 2014, a psychologist identified as G. R. L., Ph.D.,
reviewed the medical record for the disability determination
service and offered an opinion of Smith's mental
impairment. (Tr. 69-73) G. R. L. diagnosed Smith with
affective disorder. (Tr. 69) G. R. L. then evaluated
Smith's “B” listing criteria, which gauge the
severity of his limitations. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520a(c)(3). G. R. L. found Smith has no restrictions of
his daily activities; “moderate” difficulties in
maintaining social functioning; “moderate”
difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or
pace; and no evidence of decompensation. (Tr. 70) G. R. L.
further opined that the medical evidence did not establish
the presence of the “C” criteria, which are an
alternative gauge of the extent of his mental impairment.
(Tr. 70) G. R. L. then considered Smith's residual
functional capacity (RFC). (Tr. 71) G. R. L. found that
Smith's ability to understand and remember detailed
instructions is markedly limited. (Tr. 71) His ability to
carry out detailed instructions and ability to interact
appropriately with the general public are markedly limited.
(Tr. 72) His ability to work in coordination with or in
proximity to others without being distracted by them is
moderately limited. (Tr. 72) His ability to accept
instructions and respond appropriately to criticism from
supervisors is moderately limited. (Tr. 72) His ability to
get along with coworkers or peers without distracting them or
exhibiting behavioral extremes is moderately limited. (Tr.
September of 2014, Eugene Campbell, Ph.D., reviewed the
medical record for the disability determination service on
reconsideration and offered an opinion of Smith's mental
impairment. (Tr. ...