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Natsis v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

March 16, 2017

Ilias Natsis
v.
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security[1] Opinion 2017 DNH 049

          Michael T. McCormack, Esq.

          T. David Plourde, Esq.

          John A. Wolkowski, Esq.

          ORDER

          Landya McCafferty United States District Judge.

         Ilias Natsis seeks judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the decision of the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, denying his application for social security disability benefits. Natsis contends that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in his assessment of the medical evidence, in evaluating the credibility of his subjective complaints, and in assessing his residual functional capacity. The Acting Commissioner moves to affirm.

         Standard of Review

         In reviewing the final decision of the Acting Commissioner in a social security case, the court “is limited to determining whether the ALJ deployed the proper legal standards and found facts upon the proper quantum of evidence.” Nguyen v. Chater, 172 F.3d 31, 35 (1st Cir. 1999); accord Seavey v. Barnhart, 276 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir. 2001). The court defers to the ALJ's factual findings as long as they are supported by substantial evidence. § 405(g). “Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Astralis Condo. Ass'n v. Sec'y Dep't of Housing & Urban Dev., 620 F.3d 62, 66 (1st Cir. 2010).

         Background

         The background information is summarized from the parties' joint statement of material facts. See LR 9.1(c). The joint statement does not include a summary of any medical records. The court relies on the joint statement and, therefore, assumes that any medical evidence in the Administrative Record was not deemed to be significant by the parties.

         In February 2013, Ilias Natsis applied for social security disability benefits, claiming a disability that began on March 12, 2013. Natsis alleged that he was disabled because of cervical degenerative disc disease and migraine headaches. Natsis was forty-six years old at the time of his application. He had previously worked in the banking industry and was self-employed in the pizza business for the 15 years prior to his application for benefits.

         I. Function Report

         On March 19, 2013, Natsis submitted a Function Report to the Social Security Administration. Natsis wrote in the Function Report that he has cervical degenerative disc disease and is in constant pain in his neck and upper back. He also wrote that he has severe migraines, and has “intolerable” levels of pain when he is subject to continuous standing, sitting, or exposure to mental and physical stress.

         Natsis also described his typical day. He wrote that he stretches when he wakes up and takes a hot shower to relax his muscles. He then has breakfast and reads the news before using home treatment, usually a “traction device” or a TENS unit, [2] for the pain in his neck. He usually spends time paying bills and running errands, and often makes food. After having something to eat, he generally rests, before getting up around 5:00 p.m. and watching a movie or playing guitar. He also spends a few hours talking to his wife before going to bed around 10:00 p.m. Natsis also helps care for his children and his mother, does clean-up around the house, mows the lawn, cleans, shops, drives a car, and has no problems caring for himself.

         II. State Agency Physician Opinion

         On May 8, 2013, Dr. Hugh Fairley, a state agency consultative physician, reviewed Natsis's medical records of physical impairments. He opined that Natsis could perform the full range of light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b). A full range of light work means that the claimant can occasionally lift and/or carry 20 pounds, frequently lift and/or carry 10 pounds, stand and/or walk (with normal breaks) for a total of about six hours in an eight-hour workday, sit (with normal breaks) for about six hours in an eight-hour workday, has an unlimited ability to ...


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