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Davis v. Commissioner of Social Security

March 31, 2010



Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her applications for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") and Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II and XVI of the Social Security Act. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and/or remand is granted, the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment is denied, and this matter is remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further proceedings as directed in this opinion. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment for plaintiff.


Plaintiff formally applied for DIB on August 7, 2001 and for SSI on August 22, 2001.

Administrative Record ("AR") 435-37; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 1. Following a somewhat complicated procedural history, the case was remanded to an ALJ by the United States District Court in 2005. See 2:04-CV-02356-KJM, Dckt No. 16. The ALJ held a hearing and found that plaintiff was not disabled on December 5, 2006. AR 602. Plaintiff filed exceptions to the hearing decision and the Appeals Council remanded the case for another hearing, instructing the ALJ to further consider the treating and examining source opinions and further evaluate the claimant's subjective symptoms. AR 629-30. The Appeals Council's opinion stated:

. . . the [ALJ] was unable to fully credit the claimant's allegations regarding the severity of her symptoms or her functional limitations but does not consider the following factors...The claimant testified that she still suffers from constant pain deep in her abdomen, despite taking Vicodin and Darvocet, and that these medications cause her to sleep 5 to 6 hours during the day. She also stated that she relies upon a friend to change her sheets, wash her laundry, vacuum, mop the floors, and clean the bathroom, and that she is able to walk no farther than the mailbox or walk to the car when being picked up to go to a doctor or go shopping. These limitations are greater than those found in the decision.

Id. at 630. The Appeals Council ordered the ALJ to "further evaluate the claimant's subjective complaints and provide rationale in accordance with the disability regulations pertaining to evaluation of symptoms." Id.

ALJ Stanley Hogg held another hearing on July 31, 2007. Id. at 740. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing. Id. The ALJ issued a decision on September 20, 2007, finding that plaintiff was disabled up to January 2004, but not after.*fn1 Id. at 574-87. The ALJ made the following specific findings:

1. The claimant met the insured requirements of the Social Security Act as of June 11, 1999, the date the claimant became disabled.

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since...the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1520(b), 494,1571 et seq., 416.920(b) and 416.971 et seq.).

3. At all times relevant to this decision, the claimant has the following severe impairments: insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, status post-pancreatic cyst, chronic pain syndrome, and obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).


4. From June 11, 1999 through January 30, 2004, the period during which the claimant was disabled, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d) and 416.920(d)).

5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, from June 11, 1999 through January 30, 2004, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform a very narrow range of work involving no more than brief periods of standing, walking, sitting, concentrating, or other basic work activity on a regular and continuing basis.


6. The claimant has past relevant work as a nurse aide and preschool teacher (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).

7. The claimant was born on August 22, 1964 and was 35 years old on the alleged onset date the application was filed, which is defined as a younger individual (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).

8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).

9. Transferability of job skills is not an issue in view of the claimant's age category (20 CFR 404.1568 and 416.968).

10. From June 11, 1999 through January 30, 2004, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were no jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could have performed (20 CFR 404.1560(c), 404.1566, 416.960(c) and 416.966).


11. The claimant was under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from June 11, 1999 through January 30, 2004 ...

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