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Grier v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

September 2, 2014

TIQUISHA S. GRIER, Plaintiff
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Robert C. Mitchell, United States Magistrate Judge.

I. Recommendation

It is respectfully recommended that the plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.8) be denied; that the defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.10) be granted, and that the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security be affirmed.

II. Report

Presently before the Court for disposition are cross motions for summary judgment.

On March 3, 2014, Tiquisha S. Grier, by her counsel, filed a complaint pursuant to Sections 205(g) and 1631(c)(3) of the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for review of the Commissioner's final determination disallowing her claim for a period of disability or for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits under Sections 216(i) and 223 of the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§416(i) and 423 and 1381 cf.

The plaintiff filed an application for disability and supplemental security income benefits on March 7, 2011 (R.147-150, 156-161). Benefits were denied on May 24, 2011 (R.80-89). On June 2, 2011, the plaintiff requested a hearing (R.90-91), and pursuant to that request a hearing was conducted on July 3, 2012, (R.37-62). In a decision filed on August 29, 2012, an Administrative Law Judge denied benefits (R.20-32). Upon reconsideration, and in a decision dated January 2, 2014, the Appeals Council affirmed the prior decision (R.1-7). The instant complaint was filed on March 3, 2014.

In reviewing an administrative determination of the Commissioner, the question before any court is whether there is substantial evidence in the agency record to support the findings of the Commissioner that the plaintiff failed to sustain his/her burden of demonstrating that he/she was disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act..

It is provided in 42 U.S.C. Section 405(g) that:

The court shall have power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing. The findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive....

Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Johnson v. Commissioner. 529 F.3d 198 (3d Cir.2008) and the court may not set aside a decision supported by substantial evidence. Hartranft v. Apfel, 181 F.3d 358 (3d Cir.1999)

Presently before the Court for resolution is a determination of whether or not there is substantial evidence to support the findings of the Commissioner that the plaintiff is not disabled within the meaning of the Act.

At the hearing held on July 3, 2012 (R.37-62), the plaintiff appeared with counsel (R.39) and testified that she was born on November 3, 1981 (R.41); that she graduated from high school and earned an associate's degree in business administration as well as a paralegal office administrator certificate (R.42); she has three children and is assisted by her mother and sister (R.42, 50); that she worked as a doctor’s medical assistant, telemarketer, deli worker and office cleaner (R.43, 52, 54) and that she receives food stamps and social security disability benefits for her children (R.53).

The plaintiff also testified that she has a fractured right foot that was healing and caused considerable pain (R.44); that she wears a walking boot (R.45); that she has lower back problems (R.45); that she is receiving psychological therapy and taking medication (R.46-50); that she experiences difficulty being around people (R.52); that she has to lay down during the day (R.51) and that she hears voices (R.56).

At the hearing a vocational expert was called upon to testify (R.58-61). She classified the plaintiff’s prior work as unskilled to skilled in nature at the sedentary to light exertional levels (R.58-59). When asked to assume an individual of the plaintiff’s education and work history with no exertional limitations, the witness responded that there were a large number of jobs which she could perform (R.58-59), however, if the individual had to be off task frequently, she responded that such an individual could not be employed (R.60-61).

The issue before the Court is whether or not the decision of the Commissioner is ...


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