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Jastrzebski v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 6, 2018

MICHELLE LEE JASTRZEBSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL,[1] Defendant.

          CONNER, C. J.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOSEPH F. SAPORITO, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Michelle Lee Jastrzebski, is seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her claims for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. Jurisdiction is conferred on this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) and 42 U.S.C. §1383(c)(3).

         This matter has been referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge to prepare a report and recommended disposition pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(b) and Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons expressed herein, we have found that the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security is supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, it is recommended that the final decision of the Commissioner denying Jastrzebski's claims for benefits be AFFIRMED, and that Jastrzebski 's request for a new hearing or award of benefits be DENIED.

         I. Background and Procedural History

         Jastrzebski, is an adult individual, born on January 11, 1980. Jastrzebski was thirty one years of age at the time of her alleged onset of disability, which made her a "younger person" under the Commissioner's regulations whose age generally does not affect her ability to adjust to other work. Jastrzebski resides in Hazleton which is in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

         Oh July 19, 2013, Jastrzebski protectively filed her application for benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. In both applications, she alleged that she became disabled on November 11, 2011. (Tr. 23). Jastrzebski's alleged impairments included: fibromyalgia, joint pain, painful muscles, chronic pain syndrome, trouble concentrating and completing tasks, chronic fatigue, sleep apnea, insomnia, anxiety disorder, moderate major depression, memory problems, waking unrefreshed, trouble maintaining social functions, paresthesias, restless leg syndrome, headaches, blurred vision, lumbar scoliosis. (Tr. 164-165, and 214). Her claims were initially denied on December 7, 2013. On January 17, 2014, Jastrzebski filed a written request for an administrative hearing. Her request was granted. On March 10, 2015, Jastrzebski appeared and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Timothy Wing. Plaintiff was represented by her attorney, Andrew J. Primerano. Additionally, Vocational Expert Nadine Henzes (the "VE") also appeared and testified. (Tr. 23).

         Jastrzebski has filed prior applications for Title II and Title XVI benefits in June 2007 and September 2011. The ALJ found no basis upon which to reopen the determinations on the prior applications. Accordingly, the previous determinations are final and binding in regard to the applications. Therefore, the issue of disability is res judicata as this matter involves the same parties and legal questions. The current application will only consider the time period from October 20, 2012 forward, or from the date of her last Administrative Law Judge decision regarding disability. With regard to supplemental security income, the ALJ looked at the evidence from July 19, 2013, forward.

         On March 27, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision in which he concluded that, considering Jastrzebski's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, she is capable of performing past relevant work and in addition, there are jobs that she can perform that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. Jastrzebski then filed a timely complaint on November 3, 2016, in this court. (Doc. 1). The Commissioner's timely answer to the complaint was filed January 17, 2017. (Doc. 8). This matter has been fully briefed by the parties and is ripe for a decision. (Doc. 10, 11).

         II. Statement of Facts

         The plaintiff was born on January 11, 1980, and at the time of her administrative hearing she was thirty-four years of age. (Tr. 44). She completed an 11th grade education. (Tr. 45). Jastrzebski previously worked as an auto detailer, stock clerk, and laborer. She claimed that her fibromyalgia, neck pain, leg pain, shoulder blade pain, and pain that runs down her arms along with pain in her fingers, prevent her from working. She stated that the pain is constant. (Tr. 46, 47).

         She stated that there are weeks when she has three to four bad days consecutively. (Tr. 47). She stated that on those days the only time she gets up is to use the bathroom. (Tr. 48).

         She stated that a good day is when she is able to bathe, brush her teeth, and comb her hair. (Tr. 49).

         She stated she occasionally goes outside for a walk, or to pick up medicine. (Tr. 49, 50). She stated that walking around the block would require her to stop every couple minutes. She stated that she could walk approximately 25 feet before she would have to stop and rest. (Tr. 59). She stated that if she took her daughter with her on the walk, someone would have to join them because if her daughter was to run off, she would be unable to chase after her. (Tr. 50, 51). Jastrzebski uses a walker. (Tr. 4).

         She stated that she does not usually grocery shop, but if she forced to shop, she just goes in and out of the grocery store quickly. (Tr. 52). Jastrzebski stated that she has not driven since her last panic attack which was approximately several month prior to her hearing. (Tr. 52).

         She stated that her pain is in her shoulder blades, arms, knees, thighs, buttocks, and fingers. She has numbness and tingling in her hands and feet. She has difficulty grasping things. (Tr. 61). She stated that she experiences muscle spasms every day and has difficulty lifting even small items. She also has difficulty sitting and standing. (Tr. 5). Jastrzebski stated that she gets headaches a few times a day, and has to lie down and turn off the lights for relief. (Tr. 63).

         Jastrzebski stated that Keith, the father of her minor child, Kyra, takes care of Kyra. Approximately four times per week, her mother comes to help her with childcare, and at times Keith takes Kyra to his stepmother. (Tr. 61).

         She stated that her medication causes her drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping. (Tr. 58).

         She was involved in an automobile accident in November 2014. She claimed that her neck pain has worsened since that time. (Tr. 69).

         The record indicates that Jastrzebski was being treated by Cynthia L. Lubinsky, DO, for fibromyalgia, anxiety, chronic pain syndrome, and moderate depression in November 2012. (Tr. 357-382). She complained of chest pain and was referred to cardiology in January 2013. By May 2013, she had tried a variety of medications without success. In July 2013, she was reporting frequent headaches. In September 2013, she described the pain, as someone or something eating at her bones, although her physical examination was normal. (Tr. 357-382). She was taking Lyrica and Xanax.' She was seen for a second time at the Sleep Medicine Outpatient Clinic on November 5, 2013. (Tr. 500-06). She had a score of 21/24 on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. (Tr. 505).

         She was seen on January 7, 2013, for a cardiac evaluation. She was seen again on January 30, 2013, and continued to complain of chest pain and lightheadedness about 5 times a day, lasting only about 5 minutes. Her exercise treadmill stress test and echocardiogram were normal. (Tr. 342-47). There was no cardiac etiology for her symptoms. (Tr. 348).

         Dr. Cronauer at Eyeland Optometric Group saw her on August 7, 2013. She had 20/20 visual acuity at both near and distance testing with otherwise normal examination. Her diagnosis was compound ...


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