United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
SANDRA MOORE WELLS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lynn Hannigan Reilly (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial
review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“the Commissioner”), denying her
claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
under Title II of the Social Security Act. Plaintiff has
filed a brief in support of her motion for summary judgment,
Commissioner has responded to it, and Plaintiff has filed a
reply. For the reasons set forth below, the
Commissioner's final decision is affirmed.
February 20, 2015, Plaintiff applied for DIB and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”), alleging disability
since November 29, 2013, because of physical and mental
health problems. R. 31. Her claim was denied, initially,
therefore, Plaintiff requested a hearing. Id. On
December 2, 2016, Plaintiff appeared before Nadine Overton,
Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”), for an
administrative hearing; Plaintiff, who was represented by an
attorney, and vocational expert Jeff Barrett (“the
VE”), testified at the hearing. R. 73-112. On February
24, 2017, the ALJ, using the sequential evaluation process
for disability,  issued a decision finding Plaintiff
disabled, beginning June 1, 2015. R. 31-46. That starting
date entitled Plaintiff to SSI benefits, but not DIB.
Id. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review, on October 17, 2018, making the ALJ's
findings the final determination of the Commissioner. R. 1-4.
Now, Plaintiff seeks judicial review in this court; the
parties have consented to the undersigned's jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
born on January 9, 1961, R. 80, was 46 years old when the ALJ
rendered her decision. She completed three years of college,
R. 82, and has past relevant work as a collection clerk and
claim adjuster. R. 108. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff
was separated from her second husband and lived with her
three daughters, ages 13, 7 and 3. R. 80-81.
testified about her impairments at the December 2, 2016
administrative hearing. She focused her disability claim on
intractable migraines, side-effects from her medication,
post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), and
anxiety. R. 85-106. Plaintiff's migraines can occur at
any time of the day, sometimes commencing while she is
asleep. R. 85, 97. She reported experiencing three to four
migraine headaches each week that typically last from four to
five hours to twenty-four hours. R. 95. Plaintiff's
migraines affect her vision, sometimes causing temporary
blindness in both eyes. R. 96.
Plaintiff's medications disrupts her sleep patterns;
sometimes, she sleeps too long and cannot awaken in the
morning; other times, Plaintiff is unable to fall asleep at
night, because she slept too much during the day. R. 87.
Another medication affects her short-term memory, causes
tingling in her hands, the dropping of objects, face tingling
under her eyes, and eye pain. R. 86-87. A third medication
triggers dry mouth and constant thirst. R. 87.
witnessed her father abuse her mother and attempt to kill her
mother while they were still married and, again, after her
mother left him. R.103-04. While in college, Plaintiff
attempted suicide. R. 103. In 2009, while Plaintiff was
pregnant with her first child, her first husband beat her, in
an effort to cause a miscarriage. R. 104. Plaintiff married a
second man who, after they separated, came to her home, in
February 2016, and raped her. R. 89-90. The next month,
Plaintiff obtained a restraining order. R. 90. Despite that,
her second husband still calls her cell phone and hangs up as
soon as she answers. R. 92. Plaintiff is in constant fear of
encountering her second husband; she stopped attending
church, because he knows the location and the time of Mass.
is unable to perform many household tasks. Her oldest
daughter washes the family's clothing and vacuums the
house; this child has done the laundry since she turned
eleven years old. R. 88, 92. The oldest child also microwaves
pre-prepared meals for the family, when her mother cannot. R.
89. Plaintiff grocery shops in bulk, to minimize the cost and
the number of trips to the store. R. 89. Plaintiff is able to
dress and groom herself; however, some days, she does not
shower or remove clothing she wore the previous day. R.
87-88. Aproximately every two weeks, Plaintiff is too
incapacitated to attend to her children and calls a friend to
assist with their care. R. 88.
classified Plaintiff's past job as a collection clerk as
semi-skilled and sedentary;her job as a claim adjuster
was semi-skilled and light. R. 108-09. The ALJ asked the VE
to consider a person of Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, who had no exertional limitations, but needed to
avoid concentrated exposure to fumes, dust, odors, gases, or
poorly ventilated areas; additionally, the person needed to
avoid hazardous machinery and unprotected heights. R. 108.
The VE responded that this person could perform both of
Plaintiff's past jobs. Id. Next, the ALJ asked
the VE to consider the same person, but who was limited to
performing simple, routine, repetitive, concrete, tangible
tasks. R. 109. The VE answered that this limitation would
preclude both of Plaintiff's past jobs. Id.
However, the person could perform the following, alternative
jobs: (1) counter and rental clerk, a sedentary job (447, 000
positions in the national economy); (2) stock checker, a
light job (88, 240 positions in the national economy); and
(3) investigator, a light job (177, 210 positions in the
national economy). R. 109-10. The VE further opined that, if
the hypothetical individual was absent from work more that
five times each month, she could not sustain any employment.