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Howard v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 22, 2014

ANTHONY P. HOWARD, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant

Page 110

For Anthony P Howard, Plaintiff: Howard D. Olinsky, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Olinsky Law Group, Syracuse, NY; Morgan J. Gray, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Morgan J. Gray, P.C., Quincy, MA.

For Carolyn W. Colvin, Defendant: Christine J. Wichers, LEAD ATTORNEY, United States Attorney's Office MA, Boston, MA; Thomas D. Ramsey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, Boston, MA.

For Social Security Administration, Interested Party: Thomas D. Ramsey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, Boston, MA.

Page 111

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REVERSE AND REMAND AND DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO AFFIRM THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER

F. Dennis Saylor IV, United States District Judge

This is an appeal of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (" SSA" ) denying the application of plaintiff Anthony P. Howard for supplemental security income (" SSI" ) benefits. Plaintiff appeals the denial of his application on the ground that the decision is not supported by substantial evidence as required by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Specifically, plaintiff contends that the administrative law judge (" ALJ" ) improperly weighed the medical evidence, improperly analyzed plaintiff's credibility, and improperly found plaintiff capable of performing existing jobs in the national economy.

Pending before the Court are plaintiff's motion to reverse and remand the Commissioner's decision and the defendant's motion to affirm the Commissioner's decision. For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed,

Page 112

and plaintiff's motion to reverse and remand will be denied.

I. Background

Plaintiff Anthony P. Howard was born on February 26, 1965. (A.R. at 177). He is currently 49 years old. ( Id.). He attended school through eleventh grade and later, in 1983, received his GED. (A.R. at 161). He was incarcerated for fifteen years after a conviction for armed robbery. (A.R. at 34-37, 283, 306). Prior to his incarceration, he worked as a baker at a coffee shop and a cook at a fast-food restaurant. (A.R. at 161). He has not worked since December 19, 2011, the alleged onset date of his disability. (A.R. at 174, 183).

Howard claims disability stemming from asthma, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression, paranoia, and homicidal thoughts directed towards pedophiles. (A.R. at 58).

A. Medical History

1. Asthma

Howard contends that he suffers from asthma. On December 19, 2011, at the Whittier Street Health Center, Howard saw Kendrah Nealon, N.P. (A.R. at 220). Nealon noted that Howard had a history of asthma, but had not experienced an attack in several years. (A.R. at 220-22). At this appointment, Nealon counseled him on smoking cessation and advised him that they would discuss the subject further once his depression was better controlled. (A.R. at 222).

On March 8, 2012, Dr. Madhusudan Thakur examined Howard and described his asthma as " well-controlled without any treatment." (A.R. at 278-80). Dr. Thakur also noted that he had a history of daily marijuana use. (A.R. at 279). On March 12, 2012, Dr. Debra Rosenblum examined Howard. (A.R. at 275). Dr. Rosenblum reported that he smoked one pack of cigarettes per day and used to smoke three packs per day. ( Id.).

On June 21, 2012, Howard saw Sarah Grayson, N.P. at the Whittier Health Center. (A.R. at 341). Grayson noted that he had not had an asthma attack in months, but nevertheless she gave him a prescription for an albuterol inhaler. (A.R. at 342-44).[1] She also advised him to stop smoking. (A.R. at 344).

On July 5, 2012, Dr. Mark Siegel of Disability Determination Services completed a physical residual functional capacity (" RFC" ) assessment of Howard. (A.R. at 78). Dr. Siegel recommended that he avoid exposure to extreme heat or cold, avoid hazards such as machinery and heights, and avoid concentrated ...


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