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Haller v. Astrue

September 17, 2008

JOHN E. HALLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



ORDER

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying plaintiff's application for Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act ("Act"). For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is granted, and the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment denied. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment for the plaintiff.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born June 18, 1958, applied for benefits on September 2, 2004. Administrative Record ("AR") 44-47. Plaintiff alleged he was unable to work since October 1, 2002, due to stress, bulging discs in lower back and neck, and a blood clot. AR 30, 44, 91. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 30-41.

On December 21, 2006, following a hearing before administrative law judge ("ALJ") L. Kalei Fong, plaintiff was found not disabled.*fn1 AR 14-19. The ALJ made the following findings:

1. The disability insured status requirements of the Act were met on October 1, 2002, the date that the claimant stated he became unable to work, and continue to be met through the date of this decision.

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period at issue.

3. The medical evidence establishes that the claimant has a lumbar strain, degenerative disc disease, venous insufficiency, and a non-specific anxiety disorder, but that he does not have an impairment or combination of impairments listed in, or medically equal to one listed in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulations No. 4.

4. The claimant's allegations of "excess" pain and functional limitations are not fully credible for the reasons specified herein.

5. The claimant retains the residual functional capacity to do the following: 1) sit for six hours in an eight-hour work day, 2) stand/walk for six hours in an eight-hour work day, and 3) lift and carry twenty pounds on an occasional basis and ten pounds on a frequent basis. The claimant is only able to stoop and climb ladders/ropes/scaffolds on an occasional basis. The claimant needs to take breaks every thirty minutes for one minute. Additionally, the claimant has the following mental functioning impairments: 1) a mild to moderate impairment in his ability to maintain concentration, attention, persistence, and pace over time, 2) a mild impairment in his ability to associate with day-today work activity maintaining regular attendance, and 3) a mild impairment in his ability to adapt to the stressors common in a work environment (20 CFR 404.1545 and 416.945).

6. The claimant is unable to perform his past relevant work as a construction worker II.

7. The claimant is 48 years old, which is defined as a younger individual (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).

8. The claimant has a G.E.D., which is equivalent to a high school education (20 CFR 404.1564 and 46.964).

9. The claimant does not have any acquired work skills, which are transferable to the skilled or semiskilled work functions of other work (20 CFR 404.1568 and 416.968).

10. Based on an exertional capacity for light work, and the claimant's age, education, and work experience, sections 404.1569 and 416.969, Regulations Nos. 4 and 16, and Rule 202.20, Table No. 2, Appendix 2, Subpart P, ...


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