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Anderson v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 30, 2016

RANDY ANDERSON, Petitioner,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Honorable Candy W. Dale United States Magistrate Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Petitioner Randy Anderson's Petition for Review of Respondent's fully favorable decision finding Petitioner disabled beginning on March 29, 2010, after reopening a prior Title XVI application for benefits. (Dkt. 5.) Anderson challenges the ALJ's decision not to re-open his prior Title II application for disability insurance benefits. Anderson contends also that the ALJ made several errors in the favorable decision, including improperly determining his disability onset date.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to the exercise of jurisdiction over this matter by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. (Dkt. 20.) The Court has reviewed the Petition for Review and the Answer, the parties' memoranda, and the administrative record (AR), and for the reasons that follow, will dismiss the Petition for Review.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Anderson filed an application for Title XVI Supplemental Security Income Benefits[1] and an application for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits[2] in March of 2010, claiming disability beginning December 30, 2008, due to severe back pain, bilateral sciatic pain, and degenerative arthritis in the lumbar area. (AR.126.) On May 19, 2010, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied both claims. Id. Anderson's Title XVI claim was denied based on his “ability to do past work, ” and his Title II claim was denied due to insufficient medical documentation of his disability. Id. Anderson did not appeal either decision within the 60 day time period to do so.

         Anderson re-applied for Title XVI benefits on November 21, 2011, claiming disability beginning on May 20, 2010, due to severe back and bilateral sciatic pain and migraines. (AR. 128.) The SSA denied this claim on February 24, 2012. (AR. 151.) The following month, Anderson retained counsel, who requested on Anderson's behalf, reconsideration of the SSA's denial of Anderson's November 21, 2011 application for Title XVI benefits and Anderson's March 1, 2010 application for Title II benefits. (Dkt. 162.) The Administration denied the request for reconsideration of both claims. (Dkt. 166.) A hearing was held on December 19, 2012, before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Lloyd Hartford.

         After hearing testimony from Anderson, ALJ Hartford issued a written decision on February 4, 2013. (AR. 35.) ALJ Hartford did not find a basis under 20 C.F.R. § 404.988 or SSR 91-5p to reopen Anderson's Title II claim. (AR. 40.) However, ALJ Hartford determined that, due to new and material evidence, good cause existed to reopen Anderson's March 2010 application for Title XVI benefits pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.1488 and 404.989. Id. ALJ Hartford issued a fully favorable decision for Anderson's Title XVI claim, finding Anderson disabled as of March 29, 2010 (the date Anderson filed his original application for supplemental security income).[3]

         On February 24, 2013, Anderson requested review of ALJ Hartford's decision by the Appeals Council. (AR. 32.) While Anderson agreed with ALJ Hartford's disability finding, Anderson alleged ALJ Harford improperly determined his disability onset date. Anderson contended, for the first time, his disability onset date was sometime in December of 2002. Id. Anderson attached to his appeal medical records Anderson had recently recovered from the Veterans Administration dated March 18, 2001, through December 9, 2009, [4] and two personal statements, one from Anderson, and the other from his girlfriend. (AR. 327, 324, 376-450.) On September 2, 2014, the Appeals Council denied Anderson's request for review. On November 3, 2014, Anderson appealed this final decision to the Court. Anderson is no longer represented by counsel and is proceeding pro se.

         DISCUSSION

         Anderson alleges ALJ Hartford committed a variety of errors. Specifically, Anderson contends ALJ Hartford: (1) failed to provide specific and legitimate reasons for his decision not to reopen Anderson's Title II application for benefits; (2) improperly determined his disability onset date; (3) failed to fully develop the record; and (4) failed to provide specific and legitimate reasons for rejecting the opinions of one of Anderson's treating physicians and a lay witness. At the end of his forty-seven page opening brief, Anderson requests the Court “modify” ALJ Hartford's decision by amending the onset date to January 1, 2008, and by converting his award of Title XVI benefits into an award for Title II benefits. (Dkt. 22-1 at 19.)

         The Court will discuss first ALJ Hartford's decision not to reopen Anderson's Title II application for benefits, and next will discuss Anderson's remaining three arguments related ALJ Hartford's fully favorable decision to award Title XVI benefits.

         II. The Court does not have jurisdiction to review the ALJ's decision not to reopen the Title II application for benefits

         Anderson seeks review of ALJ Harford's decision not to reopen his Title II application for disability benefits. However, the Court lacks jurisdiction to review the refusal to ...


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