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Fraietta v. Saul

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 31, 2019

THERESA FRAIETTA
v.
ANDREW SAUL,[1] COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

          ORDER

          JUAN R. SÁNCHEZ, C.J.

         AND NOW, this 31st day of July, 2019, upon consideration of Plaintiff Theresa Fraietta's Brief and Statement of Issues in Support of Request for Judicial Review, Defendant Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security's response thereto, and Fraietta's reply, and after careful review of the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge David R. Strawbridge, Fraietta's objections thereto, the Commissioner's responses, and Fraietta's reply it is ORDERED:

1. Fraietta's objections to the Report and Recommendation (Document 14) are OVERRULED[2];
2. The Report and Recommendation (Document 13) is APPROVED and ADOPTED;
3. Fraietta's Request for Review (Document 9) is DENIED; and
4. Judgment is entered in favor of the Commissioner by separate order, filed contemporaneously.

         The Clerk of Court is directed to mark this case CLOSED.

---------

Notes:

[1] Andrew Saul became the Commissioner of Social Security on June 17, 2019. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d), Saul is substituted for Carolyn W. Colvin as the Defendant in this case.

[2] Plaintiff Theresa Fraietta seeks review of the denial of her application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income by Defendant Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security for the period between April 12, 2011 and April 30, 2013. In a decision issued on December 22, 2013, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) concluded Fraietta was disabled beginning on May 1, 2013, but not prior to that date, after applying the Social Security Administration's five-step sequential evaluation process. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520.

The ALJ first found Fraietta had not engaged in substantial gainful employment since her alleged onset date of April 12, 2011. Second, the ALJ determined that, prior to May 1, 2013, Fraietta suffered from fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and anxiety, but they were not severe impairments. However, the ALJ found Fraietta had the following severe impairments beginning on May 1, 2013: degenerative joint disease of the right knee, obesity, degenerative disc disease, and asthma. Third, the ALJ found Fraietta's impairments did not equal the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Fourth, the ALJ concluded that, since May 1, 2013, Fraietta had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work, with additional limitations on her exposure to certain environmental factors. The ALJ determined Fraietta had no past relevant work to assess against this residual functional capacity. Fifth, the ALJ determined there were no jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy that Fraietta could perform since May 1, 2013, and she was therefore disabled as of that date.

In her Request for Review, Fraietta makes two related arguments. She claims the ALJ erred because (1) the ALJ failed to rely on a legitimate basis for the May 1, 2013, disability onset date, Req. for Review 3, and (2) the ALJ had no rational basis to conclude Fraietta's impairments were not severe impairments prior to May 1, 2013, id. at 3, 9. On August 14, 2017, United States Magistrate Judge David R. Strawbridge issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R) addressing this alleged error, concluding the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence, and recommending the Commissioner's denial of benefits prior to May 1, 2013, be affirmed.

On August 17, 2017, Fraietta filed objections to the R&R reasserting the argument she made in her Request for Review. Fraietta argues “(1) there is no legitimate basis . . . to conclude that a person who was disabled based on a limitation to sedentary work as of May 1, 2013, did not have impairments that at least met the Agency's de minimis severity standard on April 30, 2013, ” Objs. 2, and “(2) Agency rules require the ALJ to identify a ‘legitimate medical basis' for the established onset date, ” and in this case, the ALJ erred by selecting the date of a consultative examination rather than calling upon the services of a medical advisor, id. at 3. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ...


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