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Trego v. Astrue

February 29, 2008

ALBERT P. TREGO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



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

Magistrate Judge Blewitt

ORDER

BACKGROUND

On October 20, 2006, plaintiff, Albert P. Trego, commenced this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Trego appeals the Commissioner's decision to deny him disability benefits.

The matter was initially referred to United States Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Blewitt. On January 31, 2008, the magistrate judge filed an eighteen-page report and recommendation. (Rec. Doc. No. 11.) The magistrate judge concluded that the Commissioner's decision was not supported by substantial evidence and recommended that plaintiff's appeal be granted and that the case be remanded for further proceedings. (Id.)

On February 19, 2008, the Commissioner filed objections to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation. (Rec. Doc. No. 12.)

Now, for the following reasons, the court will decline to adopt the magistrate judge's report and recommendation and will deny plaintiff's appeal.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

We have jurisdiction to hear this claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Our role is to determine whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative record to support the Commissioner's decision and findings of fact. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Plummer v. Apfel, 186 F.3d 422, 427 (3d Cir. 1999). "Substantial evidence means 'such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'" Jones v. Barnhart, 364 F.3d 501, 503 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Jesurum v. Sec'y of the U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 48 F.3d 114, 117 (3d Cir. 1995) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). "It is less than a preponderance of the evidence but more than a mere scintilla." Id. The substantial evidence standard is a deferential standard of review. Id.

A district court reviews de novo those portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation to which a party objects. L.R. 72.3. The court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." Id.

II. Analysis

There is a five-step evaluation process to determine whether an individual is disabled for purposes of Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. The Commissioner must sequentially determine: (1) whether the applicant is engaged in substantial gainful activity; (2) whether the applicant has a severe impairment; (3) whether the applicant's impairment meets or equals a listed impairment; (4) whether the applicant's impairment prevents the applicant from performing past relevant work; and (5) whether the applicant's impairment prevents the applicant from doing any other work, taking into consideration the applicant's residual functional capacity, age, education and work experience. Id.

The Administrative Law Judge ultimately decided the instant case at step four of the process. (Tr., Rec. Doc. No. 6, at 18.) Specifically, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff could perform his past relevant work as a farm worker and a general small parts assembler. (Id.) Therefore, the ALJ concluded that ...


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