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Link v. Colvin

United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

July 3, 2014

HEATHER LINK, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant. Re: ECF 8, 12

JOY FLOWERS CONTI JUDGE

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MAUREEN P. KELLY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

I. RECOMMENDATION

It is respectfully recommended that the Court grant in part and deny in part Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 8), deny Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 13), and vacate and remand the decision of the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) for reconsideration.

II. REPORT

A. Procedural History

Plaintiff, Heather Link (“Link”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant” or “Commissioner”) disallowing her claim for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI, respectively, of the Social Security Act (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-433, 1381-1383f.

Link protectively filed an application for DIB benefits on September 15, 2010, and SSI benefits on May 25, 2011, claiming an onset of disability of September 30, 2008, [1] due to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, acid reflux, gastritis, headaches and depression. (R. at 14, 200-201). The state agency denied her initial claim for DIB on November 1, 2010. (R. at 142-146). On January 3, 2011, Link requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). (R. at 149-150). On December 12, 2011, a hearing was held in Morgantown, West Virginia, before ALJ George A. Mills III. Link was represented by counsel. Larry Bell (“Bell”), a vocational expert, testified at the hearing. (R. at 31-75). Following the hearing, the ALJ issued a decision on January 17, 2012, (R. at 14-24), finding:

1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2013.
2) The claimant has not been engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 3, 2010 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3) The claimant has the following severe impairments: juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; cervical and lumbar subluxation; mood disorder; and depression (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
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 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5) The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except the type of work must: entail no climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and no more than occasional climbing of ramps or stairs, balancing, stopping, kneeling, crouching, or crawling; entail no more than occasional handling, bilaterally; entail no concentrated exposure to wetness or hazards (i.e. unprotected heights or dangerous machinery); be limited to unskilled work activities; entail no more than occasional contact with the public, supervisors, or coworkers; and entail no rapid production quotas.
6) The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7) The claimant was born on May 28, 1979, and was 29 years old on the date of her application, and is a “younger individual” (age 18-49) (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8) The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 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-disabled, ” 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 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11) The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from April 3, 2010, through the date of [the] decision ...

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