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Loyha v. Astrue

July 9, 2010

ED LOYHA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") finding that her disability had ceased in December, 2003, and terminating her Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED, the Commissioner's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, and the Clerk is directed to enter judgment for the Commissioner.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born April 5, 1958, applied on April 24, 1991for disability benefits. (Tr. at 34.) Plaintiff alleged she was unable to work due to headaches, neck pain, and a personality disorder. (Tr. at 34, 176.) Plaintiff was found disabled by an ALJ on December 13, 1993; however, on December 12, 2003, the Commissioner determined that plaintiff was no longer disabled. (Tr. at 183-86.) A hearing on the cessation decision resulted in a denial on April 19, 2005. (Tr. at 14-20.) This decision was upheld on appeal. (Tr. at 6-8.) After plaintiff filed for relief with the district court, her case was remanded to the ALJ on May 30, 2007, for further proceedings. (Tr. at 528-39.) On remand, the second ALJ decision, issued October 22, 2007, again found that plaintiff was no longer entitled to benefits. (Tr. at 440-52.) The Appeals Council then remanded for submission of further evidence and/or argument, and to obtain vocational testimony regarding the effect of the assessed limitations on plaintiff's occupational base. (Tr. at 479-80.)

In a decision dated August 25, 2008, ALJ Stanley R. Hogg determined plaintiff was no longer disabled. The ALJ made the following findings:*fn1

1. The most recent favorable medical decision finding that the claimant was disabled is the determination dated December 10, 1993. This is known as the "comparison point decision" or CPD.

2. At the time of the CPD, the claimant had the following medically determinable impairment: personality disorder. This impairment was found to meet section(s) 12.08 of 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 416.920(d)).

3. The medical evidence establishes that, as of December 12, 2003, the claimant had the following medically determinable impairments: depressive disorder not otherwise specified and arthralgias of the right shoulder, lower back and bilateral knees. These are the claimant's current impairments.

4. Since December 12, 2003, the claimant has not had an impairment or combination of impairments which meets or medically equals the severity of an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 416.925 and 416.926).

5. Medical improvement occurred as of December 12, 2003 (20 CFR 416.994(b)(1)(i)).

6. The medical improvement is related to the ability to work because, as of December 12, 2003, the claimant no longer had an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the same listing[] that was met at the time of the CPD (20 CFR 416.994(b)(2)(iv)(A)).

7. Beginning on December 12, 2003, the claimant's impairments have continued to be severe, but considerably less severe tha[n] found at the comparison point decision (20 CFR § 416.994(b)(5)(v)).

8. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, beginning on December 12, 2003, the claimant has had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b). Additionally, due to mild to moderate depression, the claimant is limited to unskilled work which requires only one, two or three step instructions. She is also unable to work at jobs which require working with the public.

9. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).

10. On December 12, 2003, the claimant was a younger individual age 18-44 (20 CFR 416.963).

11. The claimant is not able to communicate in English, and is considered in the same way as an individual who is illiterate in English.

12. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 416.968).

13. Beginning on December 12, 2003, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, the claimant has been able to perform a significant number of jobs in ...


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