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Neal v. Astrue

July 30, 2010

SHARON Y. NEAL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

Judge Arthur J. Schwab

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Sharon Neal (hereinafter "Plaintiff"), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) of the Social Security Act ("the Act"), seeking review of the final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for supplemental security income ("SSI") and disability insurance benefits ("DIB"). Consistent with the customary practice in the Western District of Pennsylvania, the parties have submitted cross motions for summary judgment on the record developed at the administrative proceedings. After careful consideration of the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") Decision, the memoranda of the parties, and the entire record, the Court will grant the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and deny Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed an application for SSI and DIB on February 8, 2007, alleging disability beginning on January 1, 2003. R. at 9, 74-81. Plaintiff's claim was denied on July 21, 2007 and she thereafter requested a hearing. R. at 54-65 The hearing was held on January 9, 2009 before ALJ James Bukes. R. at 18-34. Plaintiff, appearing with her disability representative, Robert W. Gillikin, testified at the hearing along with the vocational expert, Karen Krull. Id.

The ALJ issued a decision on March 10, 2009, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. R. at 9-17. The ALJ found that Plaintiff was capable of performing sedentary work with limitations. Id. The ALJ found that Plaintiff could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy such as alarm monitor, hand packer, and telemarketer. Id. On October 28, 2009, the Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ's decision, thus becoming the final decision of the Commissioner.

R. at 1-3. Plaintiff then filed her complaint herein seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision.

III. Statement of the Case

In the decision dated March 10, 2009, the ALJ made the following specific findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2006.

2. The claimant has not engaged in "substantial gainful activity" since January 1, 2003, the alleged onset date (20 C.F.R. 404.1520 (b), 404.1571 et seq).

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: obesity, Grave's disease, arthritis of the lower back, carpal tunnel syndrom, asthma, and depression (20 C.F.R. 404.1521 et seq. and 416.921 et esq.).

4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R.404.1525, 404.1526, 416.925 and 416.926).

5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) involving a sit/stand option and avoiding: fine fingering with the right dominant hand; crowds; assembly line pace; and temperature extremes, wetness, humidity, fumes, odors, and dust.

6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 C.F.R. 404.1565 and 416.965).

7. The claimant was born on September 23, 1959, and was 43 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date (20 C.F.R. 404.1563 and 416.963).

8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 C.F.R. 404.1564 and 416.964).

9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is "not disable," whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).

10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 C.F.R. 404.1569, 404.1569a, 416.969, ans 416.969a).

11. The claimant has not been under a disability as defined in the Social Security Act, from January 1, 2003, through the date of this decision (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

R. at 11-16.

IV. Standards of Review

Judicial review of the Commissioner's final decisions on disability claims is provided by statute. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)*fn1 and 1383(c)(3)*fn2 . Section 405(g) permits a district court to review transcripts and records upon which a determination of the Commissioner is based. Because the standards for eligibility under Title II (42 U.S.C. §§ 401-433, regarding Disability Insurance Benefits, or "DIB"), and judicial review thereof, are virtually identical to the standards under Title XVI (42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f, regarding Supplemental Security Income, or "SSI"), regulations and decisions rendered under the Title II disability standard, 42 U.S.C. § 423, are pertinent and ...


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