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Stenson v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Colorado

October 20, 2014

JOSEPH ADAM STENSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER AFFIRMING ALJ'S DECISION DENYING SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS

CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on review of the Commissioner's decision to deny Plaintiff Joseph Adam Stenson's ("Plaintiff") application for social security disability benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. Jurisdiction is proper under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits on October 11, 2012, and supplemental security income on October 17, 2012. Plaintiff was born on September 15, 1969, and was 41 on his alleged disability onset date of December 5, 2010. He received a GED and worked in the past as a fast food worker and manager, survey worker and manager, sandwich maker, cutter, welder, and telemarketer. Plaintiff also testified that, between June 2011 and the end of 2012, he owned a business in which he worked sporadically as a laborer. (AR at 32-41.)[1]

Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, and gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain and hemorrhoids. He testified that he has suffered from hemorrhoids since he was 17 years old and that the resulting physiological issues cause him to need unscheduled bathroom breaks throughout the day. He takes medication for his depression. (AR at 41-53.)

Plaintiff testified that he is homeless, but stays at his girlfriend's house two to three times per week and that he helps her with laundry, cleaning, washing dishes, and cooking. He also stays at his parents' house two or three times per week and helps them with laundry, cleaning, cooking, and grocery shopping. He testified that he can stand for 10 to 15 minutes, walk for 10 minutes, sit for up to an hour, and lift up to 40 pounds. (AR at 53-55.)

After his initial application was denied, Plaintiff requested a hearing, which was held on March 21, 2013, before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), who issued an unfavorable decision on April 11, 2013. (AR at 9-20.)

In applying the five-step sequential evaluation process outlined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920 to determine whether Plaintiff was disabled, the ALJ determined that:

1. Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 5, 2010, the alleged onset date [Step 1];
2. Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: abdominal pain, hemorrhoids, major depressive disorder versus dysthymia, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [Step 2];
3. Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 [Step 3];
4. Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") "to perform a range of medium exertion work-related activities as described in the Regulations with the following specific limitations: he can lift and carry 25 pounds frequently and 50 pounds occasionally; can sit for at least six hours in an eight-hour workday; can stand/walk for at least six hours in an eight-hour workday; can frequently stoop, kneel and crouch; must avoid exposure to unprotected heights and open machinery; is able to maintain the concentration, persistence, and pace to understand, remember, and carry out routine and repetitive, but not complex instructions; and is able to occasionally interact with supervisors, coworkers, and the public." [Step 4]; and
5. Plaintiff was unable to perform his past relevant work, but can perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy [Step 5]. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (AR at 1-3.) On

August 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed his appeal of the Commissioner's final decision. (Doc. # 1.) Plaintiff filed his opening brief on April 25, 2014, and the Commissioner ...


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