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Godin v. U.S. Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

November 16, 2017

Russell John Godin
v.
U.S. Social Security Administration, Acting Commissioner

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Paul Barbadoro United States District Judge

         Russell John Godin challenges the denial of his claim for Social Security disability insurance (“SSDI”) benefits and supplemental security income (“SSI”). He argues, among other things, that the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) overlooked relevant evidence when determining his residual functional capacity (“RFC”) and improperly relied on an opinion from a vocational expert that jobs existed in the national economy that Godin was capable of performing. The Acting Commissioner seeks an order affirming the decision. For the following reasons, I affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts

         Godin was 48 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision.[1] Doc. 11 at 2. He worked in the past as a flagger, a ski lift attendant, a foreman for a steel construction company, a delivery driver, and a tow truck operator. Doc. 11 at 2. He claimed that he had been disabled since 2013.

         Godin's first documented health problem was neck pain, which he reported in November, 2010. Doc. 11 at 2. He also reported left and right ankle pain in 2013. Doc. 11 at 2. Godin also claimed that he suffered from stress and “skin lesion; myalgia; coronary artery disease (CAD); myocardial perfusion scan with stress test; abnormal headaches; hypertension; question of sleep apnea; obstructive hyperlipidemia; insomnia; depression; major dyspnea; chest discomfort; risk of sleep apnea; palpitations; fatigue; ankle pain; morbid obesity; broken CSA; chronic neck pain; history of acute cervical strain; and cervical radiculopathy.” Doc. 11 at 3.

         Despite claiming to have been disabled since September 3, 2013, Doc. 11 at 2, Godin admitted that he had worked as a tow truck operator from June 2014 through February 2015. Administrative Transcript (“Tr.”) 51, 57. During this time, he worked anywhere from 30 hours a week to 60 hours a week. Tr. 51-52.

         B. Procedural History

         Godin filed his claim for both SSDI and SSI on August 2, 2013. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied his claim on November 7, 2013. Tr. 155. Godin requested a hearing before an ALJ. Tr. 165. The ALJ conducted a hearing on Godin's claim on August 11, 2015. Tr. 14.

         The ALJ denied Godin's claim in a written decision issued on September 3, 2015. In reaching this decision, the ALJ applied the five-step analysis required by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520 (for SSDI claims) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.920 (for SSI claims). At step one, the ALJ determined that Godin was not currently engaged in substantial gainful activity. Tr. 17. At step two, she determined that Godin had the following severe impairments: “degenerative joint disease of the ankle, obesity, status post stent insertion, a major depressive disorder, and substance abuse.” Tr. 17. At step three, she concluded that Godin did not have any of the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R., Subpart P, Appendix 1. Tr. 17-19. At step four, she determined that Godin's RFC allowed him to do “light work as defined in [§] 404.1567(b) and [§] 416.967(b) except he could[:]

stand or walk for up to six hours in an eight-hour day, but no more than one half hour at a time;
sit for six hours in an eight-hour day, with breaks every two hours;
never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, but occasionally climb ramps or stairs. . .;
occasionally reach overhead;
occasionally stoop, kneel, and operate foot controls, but never ...

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