United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
SANDRA MOORE WELLS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Hosbach (“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”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits
under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. Plaintiff
has filed a brief in support of her request for review and
the Commissioner has responded to it. Plaintiff has submitted
a reply brief. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiff's Request for Review is granted and the case
September 1, 2015, Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI
benefits, alleging disability based on rheumatoid arthritis
(“RA”), diabetes, depression, suppressed
immunity, and fibromyalgia beginning November 7, 2014; her
date last insured is December 31, 2019. Pl. Br. at 1; Resp.
at 3; R. 11-12. Plaintiff amended her alleged onset date to
October 1, 2015, in her brief to the Appeals Council, to
correlate with the date she stopped working. R. 757; Pl. Br.
at 1. The Social Security Administration denied
Plaintiff's claim twice, therefore, she requested a
hearing. R. 556-63. 564-69; Pl. Br. at 1; Resp. at 3.
April 4, 2018, Plaintiff appeared before Bonnie Hannan,
Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”), for her
video hearing; Plaintiff, represented by an attorney, and a
vocational expert, Diane Haller (“the VE”),
testified at the hearing. R. 483-517. On July 31, 2018, the
ALJ, using the sequential evaluation process for
disability, issued an unfavorable DIB decision. R.
25-35. Plaintiff timely appealed and offered additional
evidence and a supporting brief, R. 757-772; however, on
March 8, 2019, the Appeals Council denied her appeal. R. 1-8.
On May 13, 2019, Plaintiff now seeks judicial review from
this Court; both parties have consented to the
undersigned's jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
born on July 22, 1979, R. 701, R. 489, was 38 years old on
the date of the administrative hearing. R. 489. She is 5
feet, 5 inches tall and weighs approximately 320 pounds. R.
705. Plaintiff possesses a high school diploma and completed
one year of college. R. 491, R. 704. She last worked for 16
years as a credentialing coordinator at St. Luke's
Hospital. R. 492. Plaintiff currently resides with her
husband and eleven-year-old daughter in East Stroudsburg,
Pennsylvania. R. 489-490.
testified about her impairments, at the April 4, 2018
administrative hearing. R. 483-517. She stated that her RA
and compromised immune system adversely impact her ability to
work. R. 494. Plaintiff reported she is unable to take
medication for her RA when she is suffering from any other
illness or infection. R. 494-95. She testified that, as a
result of her ailments, some days she is unable to get out of
bed, struggles to sit and stand, cannot bend over, and cannot
lift. R. 494. She struggles to write, use a knife, bathe and
dress herself without her husband's or daughter's
assistance. R. 499. Furthermore, Plaintiff has arthritis in
her spine and asthmatic bronchitis. R. 499, R. 505.
stated that her weight, which fluctuates from 300 to 340
pounds, R. 490-91, requires use of a cane to ambulate at home
and a handrail in the bathroom beside the toilet to assist
her; she has had multiple steroid injections in her knees
which creak and swell. R. 504-506.
administrative hearing, the VE classified Plaintiff's
prior credentialing coordinator position as sedentary. R.
511-12. The ALJ asked the VE a series of hypothetical
questions that consider a person of Plaintiff's age,
education, past sedentary work experience, with occasional
ability to climb ramps and stairs, but no ability to climb
ladders, ropes or scaffolds, kneel, crouch or crawl, or work
at unprotected heights or with moving mechanical parts. R.
512. The VE responded that this individual, generally, could
perform Plaintiff's past job of credentialing
coordinator. Id. The ALJ asked whether there would
be any other work that an individual in the hypothetical
could perform. The VE identified three suitable sedentary
jobs: (1) new account clerk (45, 000 positions nationally),
(2) touch-up inspector, electronics (38, 000 jobs
nationally), and (3) final assembler (33, 000 positions
nationally). R. 512-13.
the ALJ asked the VE to consider the same person, but with
additional limitations on frequent bilateral handling,
fingering and feeling. R. 513. The VE answered that these
restrictions still would allow the person to generally
perform Plaintiff's past work. Id. These hand
problems would preclude work as a touch-up inspector;
however, the individual could work as a screener for printed
circuits (42, 000 positions nationally), instead.
Id. The VE opined that, although an individual who
required a cane could perform the credentialing clerk
position as the job is generally performed, they would not be
able perform Plaintiff's actual job, because it also
required carrying 30 pound boxes of files. R. 514. The ALJ
asked whether the same individual would be able to perform
the new account clerk, final assembler and the screener for
printed circuits jobs; the VE responded that the person would
be able to do so. Id. The VE further testified that
any such employees would be under fairly direct supervision,
could not be off task more than five percent of the time on a
regular basis, and could not be absent more than a once a
month during the first year of employment. Id.
Finally, the VE confirmed that her testimony was consistent
with the Dictionary of Occupational Titles; some testimony
regarding off task time and absenteeism was based on her
professional experiences. R. 514-15.