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Barbara A. Meixner v. Michael J. Astrue

December 4, 2012

BARBARA A. MEIXNER, 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

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

Barbara A. Meixner ("Plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking review of the final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant" or "Commissioner") denying her application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 -- 433, 1381 -- 1383f ("Act"). This matter comes before the Court upon cross-motions for summary judgment. (Doc. Nos. 10, 12). The record has been developed at the administrative level. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. no. 12) will be DENIED, and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. no. 9) will be GRANTED.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed for DIB and SSI with the Social Security Administration on April 21, 2009, claiming an inability to work due to disability beginning March 11, 2008. (Transcript ("Tr.") at 94-106). Plaintiff was initially denied benefits on July 23, 2009. (Tr. at 59 -- 68). A hearing was scheduled for November 1, 2010. (Tr. at 35 -- 57). Plaintiff appeared to testify, and was represented by counsel. (Tr. at 22-- 55). A vocational expert also testified. (Tr. at 22-55). The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") issued his decision denying benefits to Plaintiff on January 27, 2011. (Tr. at 9 -- 17). Plaintiff filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council, which request was denied on May 7, 2012, thereby making the decision of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. at 1 -- 6).

Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this Court on June 21, 2012. (Doc. No. 3). Defendant filed his Answer on September 13, 2012. (Doc. No. 5). Cross-motions for summary judgment followed.

III. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

In his decision denying DIB and SSI to Plaintiff, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2013;

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 11, 2008, the alleged onset date;

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease;

4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1;

5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a) and 416.967(b) except she requires alternating positions at will. The claimant also retains the mental capacity for simple, routine and repetitive work tasks requiring no more than incidental independent judgment and discretion or changes in work processes. She should avoid interaction with the general public, and requires only incidental interaction with co-workers lasting no more than 1/6th of an 8-hour workday;

6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work;

7. The claimant was born on August 26, 1968, and was 39 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-39, on the alleged disability onset date.

8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English;

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 disabled," whether or not the claimant has transferable jobs skills;

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; and,

11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 11, 2008, ...


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