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Yoder v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 18, 2014

TERRY LYNN YODER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

OPINION

MAURICE B. COHILL, Jr., Senior District Judge.

I. Introduction

This case is before us on appeal from a final decision by the defendant, Commissioner of Social Security ("the Commissioner"), denying Terry Lynn Yoder's claim for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income under Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act. The parties have submitted cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, we will deny the Plaintiffs motion and grant the Defendant's motion.

II. Procedural History

Terry Lynn Yoder applied for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income under Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f on July 6, 2009, alleging a disability due to chronic diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, tumors on adrenal gland, and cysts on ovaries, uterus and lungs, with an alleged onset date of July 27, 2005. Plaintiffs claim was initially denied on September 17, 2009. A timely request for a hearing was filed by Plaintiff on November 16, 2009. A video hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on May 11, 2011, at which Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified. R. at 60-80. A vocational expert also testified at the hearing.

By decision dated July 25, 2011, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is not disabled under §§ 216(i), 223(d), and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act. R. at 21-29. The ALJ found that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: irritable bowel syndrome; adrenal gland adenoma; ovarian cysts; and depression. R. 23. The ALJ also determined that none of the impairments or combination of impairments meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. R. 24-25.

The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform light work, except that she is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks not performed in a fast paced production environment with few workplace changes and only occasional interaction with others; and she requires access to a bathroom for five minutes every hour. R.25-27.

In making this determination the ALJ made the following credibility determination:

I find that the claimant's medically determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to cause the alleged symptoms; however, the claimant's statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these symptoms are not credible to the extent they are inconsistent with the above residual functional capacity assessment.

R.26.

Considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, the ALJ concluded that she is "capable of making a successful adjustment to other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy, " and therefore she is "not disabled." R. 28.

Plaintiff filed a timely review of the ALJ's determination, which was denied by the Appeals Council on February 22, 2013. R. 1-6. Having exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed the instant action seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her application.

III. Standard of Review

The Congress of the United States provides for judicial review of the Commissioner's denial of a claimant's benefits. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)(2012). This court must determine whether or not there is substantial evidence which supports the findings of the Commissioner. See id. "Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate.'" Ventura v. Shalala , 55 F.3d 900, 901 (3d Cir. 1995), quoting Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). This deferential standard has been referred to as "less than a preponderance of evidence but more than a scintilla." Bums v. Barnhart , 312 F.3d 113, 118 (3d Cir. 2002). This standard, however, does not permit the court to substitute its own conclusions for that of the fact-finder. See id.; Fargnoli v. Massonari , 247 F.3d 34, 38 (3d Cir. 2001) (reviewing whether the administrative law judge's findings "are supported by substantial evidence" regardless of whether the court would have differently decided the factual inquiry). So long as the ALJ's decision is supported ...


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