United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
Philip Teague, Plaintiff: Michael J. Kelley, Law Office of
Michael J. Kelley, Boston, MA.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Defendant: Giselle J. Joffre, LEAD
ATTORNEY, United States Attorney's Office MA, Boston, MA;
Shelbey D. Wright, LEAD ATTORNEY, United States
Attorney's Office, Boston, MA.
Social Security Administration, Interested Party: Thomas D.
Ramsey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the General Counsel, Boston,
AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REVERSE AND
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO AFFIRM THE DECISION OF THE
Dennis Saylor IV, United States District Judge.
an appeal of the final decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (" SSA" ) denying
Philip Teague's application for Social Security
Disability Income (" SSDI" ) benefits. The
Commissioner denied Teague's claim for benefits, finding
that he was not disabled as of March 31, 2011, the last date
that he was eligible for benefits. Teague appeals the
Commissioner's decision on the ground that the decision
was not supported by substantial evidence pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). Specifically, Teague contends that the
SSA's Appeals Council improperly failed to consider a
finding by the Veterans Administration (" VA" )
that he was 100 percent disabled as of July 31, 2012.
before the Court are Teague's motion to reverse the
decision of the Commissioner and the Commissioner's
motion to affirm her decision. For the reasons stated below,
the decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed.
Teague was 49 years old in 2011, the date that he was last
insured. (A.R. 22). He is a high school graduate; his work
has included working with concrete, operating a wood plane in
a lumber mill, and operating the front desk at a homeless
shelter. (A.R. 46, 55).
served in the military from 1979 through 1983. (A.R. 48).
While in the military, he suffered a knee injury. He contends
that his injury became worse over time and now occasionally
requires a knee brace. (A.R. 55-58). He also suffers from
back pain and hearing loss. (A.R. 57, 59-60).
testified that he also suffered a head injury during his
military service, and that the injury has caused him
light-headedness and headaches. (A.R. 61-62). During 2011,
Teague suffered headaches three or four times per month, and
they occasionally required rest and pain medication. (A.R.
63). Teague also testified that he experienced memory loss
that made it difficult to remember names, but that he was
able to follow basic instructions. (A.R. 65).
further testified that he had suffered from depression since
the 1980s. (A.R. 66). Although he testified that he learned
how to deal with his mental health issues, Teague also noted
that he abused alcohol and drugs until December 2010. (A.R.
66-67). He also testified that he suffered from PTSD in
connection with an accident during his military service in
Korea. (A.R. 69). He stated that he experienced mood swings
and interact well in crowds. (A.R. 79). He testified that he
easily became tired and would nap in front of the television
for two or three hours per day. (A.R. 81).
testified that he thought that he could lift up to 50 pounds
during the relevant period, but would have trouble sitting
for long periods. (A.R. 89). He stated that he could walk for
one mile, but would " pay for it in the long run."
(A.R. 90). He did not have problems with pushing or pulling.
reaching a decision, the ALJ asked the vocational expert to
assume a person of plaintiff's age, education, and work
experience, who could perform work at the medium level, with
the following restrictions: only frequent lifting of 20
pounds; only occasional lifting of 40 pounds; only occasional
stooping, crouching, crawling, or kneeling; tasks with an SVP
of 3 or lower; the ability to be off task less than 10
percent of the time; and avoidance of workplace hazards,
vibration, and extreme cold. (A.R. 91-94). The vocational
expert testified that such an individual could not perform
any of plaintiff's past work, but could perform the jobs
of janitor, dishwasher, or laundry worker--jobs which existed
in significant numbers in the local and national economies. (