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Gaines v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 1, 2014

CONNIE RENEE GAINES,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

MEMORANDUM OPINION

J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Connie Renee Gaines ("Plaintiff"), brings this action pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (the "Act"), seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). The Parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 8) will be GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 14) will be DENIED, and the case will be REMANDED to the Commissioner for further proceedings.

II. Procedural History

On June 29, 2011, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI. (R. 185-200). The applications were denied on November 4, 2011. (R. 106-15). Plaintiff filed a timely request for an administrative hearing. (R. 118-19). Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Douglas Cohen held a hearing on September 13, 2012. (R. 32-72). Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified on her own behalf. Id. An impartial vocational expert ("VE") also testified at the hearing. (R. 64-71).

III. Statement of the Case

In a decision dated September 21, 2012, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2013.

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2010, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq. ).

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: back pain, unstable right knee secondary to degenerative joint disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hearing loss, cyclothymic disorder, depression, and borderline intellectual functioning (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. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except: she can occasionally climb ramps and stairs only, and occasionally balance, stoop and crouch; she must avoid crawling and kneeling; she must avoid environments with loud background noises; she must avoid concentrated exposure to dust, fumes, odors, gases, wetness, humidity, and environments with poor ventilation; she is limited to jobs that require no more than rudimentary reading and writing, and no mathematical calculations; she is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks not performed in a fast-paced production environment, involving only simple work-related decisions, and in general, relatively few workplace changes; and she must avoid close supervision or close interaction with supervisors and coworkers.

6. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).

7. The claimant was born on November 24, 1970 and was 39 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability ...


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