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MCCANN v. APFEL

May 31, 2001

KAREN A. MCCANN
V.
KENNETH S. APFEL, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herbert J. Hutton, J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual History

The Plaintiff, Karen McCann, was born on April 21, 1958. (R.113). During 1976, she graduated from high school and worked as a secretary for New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company. (R. 308). She remained at New Jersey Manufacturers until her involvement in a serious automobile accident on March 30, 1978. (R. 308). Since that time, the Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity. (R. 308).

As a result of her accident, the Plaintiff suffered severe injuries. (R. 334). She was unconscious when admitted to the hospital and nonresponsive to painful stimulation. (R. 334). The diagnosis of the Plaintiff's injuries included a cerebral contusion, a fracture of the shaft of the left humerus, a fracture of the left humeral neck and right clavicle, and a bilateral subdural hygroma left greater than the right. (R. 334). As part of her treatment while hospitalized from the accident, the Plaintiff underwent an evacuation of the subdural hygroma via a bitemporal craniectomy. (R. 334). Upon her release from the hospital, the Plaintiff entered Moss Rehabilitation Hospital for continuation of more intensive physical therapy and speech therapy, as well as a psychological evaluation. (R. 334).

Beginning in July of 1979, the Plaintiff visited several medical professionals for evaluation of her ability to engage in substantial gainful activity. (R. 24-27). From 1979 through 1980, the Plaintiff received treatment from Drs. Frignito, Rosenfeld, Long, Norton, Courtney, and Christine. (R. 24-27). Pursuant to her more recent application for disability benefits, the Plaintiff has also been evaluated by Drs. Robinson and Logue. (R. 27-28).

B. Procedural History

On June 5, 1978, the Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits based upon injuries sustained in her March 30, 1978 accident. (R. 113-116). The Commissioner granted the Plaintiff's request on July 18, 1978. (R. 85). On September 26, 1979, a determination was made that the Plaintiff's disability had ended in August of 1979. (R. 86). Following the disability guidelines in place, the Plaintiff received benefits until October of 1979. (R. 87). On reconsideration, the termination of the Plaintiff's disability benefits was affirmed. (R. 88).

On September 13, 1995, the Plaintiff filed the current application for disability insurance benefits. (R. 121). The Plaintiff's application for benefits was denied on March 28, 1996 and that denial was upheld on reconsideration. (R. 90-92). On August 7, 1996, the Plaintiff made a timely request for a hearing. (R. 106). On June 15, 1998, a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (R. 39).

At the hearing before the ALJ, testimony was taken from the Plaintiff, several family members, and a vocational expert. (R. 39). The attorney for the Plaintiff argued that she was disabled, she met the severity of a listed impairment, and that she was a member of the Kuehner class entitling her to a review of her previously denied claim. (R. 79-83). In addition to the evidence adduced at the hearing, the ALJ considered the reports of various medical and psychological professionals who have evaluated the Plaintiff since the time of her accident when deciding this claim. (R. 17-34).

After considering the evidence and arguments presented at the hearing, the ALJ concluded that while the Plaintiff was not able to return to her previous employment, she was able to perform other work which exists in significant numbers in the national economy. (R. 19, 33). For that reason, the ALJ determined that the Plaintiff was not disabled as that term is defined in the Social Security Act and regulations. (R. 33). The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for review on May 9, 2000. (R. 6).

II. DISCUSSION

Having exhausted her administrative remedies, the Plaintiff filed her Complaint with this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g) seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying her claim to benefits. The Commissioner answered the Complaint. On November 15, 2000, the Plaintiff filed her motion for summary ...


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