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Cordell v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

April 28, 2014

RANDAL ALAN CORDELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES A. REDDEN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Randal Alan Cordell brings this action, pro se, to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying his claim for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed and this matter is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed his applications on November 15, 2007, alleging disability since April 21, 1999, due to "[s]evere burns to feet and legs, narrowing of disks in back, cracked pelvic bone, r arm problems, carpal tunnel." Tr. 259. Plaintiff was 34 years old on his alleged onset date. He completed the 12th grade. Tr. 50. His application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. A hearing was held on January 28, 2010, at which Plaintiff was not represented by counsel. Tr. 43-58. The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") found him not disabled. The Appeals Council granted review of the ALJ's decision and on October 12, 2010, vacated the decision and remanded it back to an ALJ for further proceedings to determine whether Plaintiff was capable of performing any past relevant work. Tr. 101-02.

A second hearing was held on October 14, 2011, at which Plaintiff was not represented by counsel. Tr. 25-34. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for review in December 2012, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

ALJ's DECISION

On December 8, 2011, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the medically determinable severe impairments of degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, lumbar facet syndrome, and degenerative joint disease of the right wrist. Tr. 27.

The ALJ found that Plaintiffs impairments did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App. 1. Tr. 23.

The ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a reduced range of light work, but could not climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, must avoid exposure to workplace hazards such as unprotected heights and unguarded moving equipment, could frequently balance and climb ramps and stairs, could occasionally crouch and stoop, could frequently kneel and crawl, and could frequently but not continuously use his dominant right hand for grasping. Tr. 28.

At step four, the ALJ found Plaintiff was unable to perform his past relevant work, but that there were jobs in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform such as cashier, storage facility rental clerk, and electronics worker. Tr. 33-34.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff is not represented by counsel, he has not filed a brief, and he makes no assignments of error. The record indicates that Plaintiff advised the Appeals Council he had evidence of hospitalization and surgery that occurred after the ALJ's decision. Tr. 18. The Appeals Council advised Plaintiff by letter dated October 9, 2012, that Plaintiff must submit new evidence "within 30 days of the date of this letter" and that if Plaintiff did not respond within 30 days the Appeals Council would proceed "based on the record we have." Tr. 19. More than 30 days later, on November 30, 2012, Plaintiff submitted additional evidence to the Appeals Council. Tr. 4-17.

A. Evidence Submitted to the Appeals Council

Transcript No. 4 is a transmittal cover letter. No. 5 is an November 10, 2012, authorization to disclose health information. Transcript No. 6 is Plaintiff's patient information form noting a September 25, 2012 hospital admission for L3-4 and L4-5 decompressive laminectomies. Transcript No. 7 is a September 27, 2012, hospital discharge summary. Transcripts No. 8 and 9 are a description of surgery performed on Plaintiff on September 25, 2012 by Andrew J. Kokkino, M.D. Number 10 is a physician verification of no significant change in the Plaintiffs medical condition. Transcripts No. 11-14 are August 30, 2012, chart notes by Dr. Kokkimo regarding Plaintiffs lower back pain. Number 15 is a ...


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