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Ingram v. Astrue

October 28, 2010

DANA S. INGRAM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Introduction and Summary

Plaintiff filed for Supplemental Security Benefits (SSI, Title XVI) on December 6, 2005. This was her seventh application, all of the preceding applications having been denied. Therefore, a presumption of non-disability applied in this case, and plaintiff must show changed circumstances indicating the presence of a disability. See Chavez v. Bowen, 844 F.2d 691 (9th Cir. 1998). The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied plaintiff's claim on June 23, 2008; review was denied by the Appeals Council on September 18, 2008. A timely complaint was filed in this action. Both sides have moved for summary judgment.

For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion is denied; the Commissioner's cross-motion is granted.

ALJ Decision

Review having been denied by the Appeals Council, the ALJ's decision was the final decision of the Commissioner. The ALJ's formal findings were as follows:

1. The claimant filed her current application for supplemental security income benefits on December 6, 2005.

2. The claimant has not engaged in any substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2001, the alleged onset date of disability.

3. The medical evidence establishes that the claimant suffers from hand injuries, memory problems and a substance addiction disorder in remission that are "non-severe." The medical evidence establishes that the claimant suffers from a seizure disorder, asthma, depression that are "severe."

4. The medically established disorders are not attended by clinical and laboratory findings that meet or equal the criteria of any section of the Listing of Impairments at 20 C.F.R., Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 for the requisite period.

5. There are medical disorders to account for the type of subjective complaints, but the alleged intensity, persistence and functionally limiting effects of the symptoms are not found fully credible for the reasons discussed in the body of this decision.

6. The claimant retains the residual functional capacity to perform light of sedentary work involving simple, repetitive tasks. The claimant is further precluded from work at heights, around moving machinery or driving and in environments of dusts, gases, fumes, odors or poor ventilation.

7. The claimant does not retain the residual functional capacity to perform her past relevant work.

8. The claimant is a younger individual at age 41 years.

9. The claimant has a high school education.

10. There is no issue of transferable skills.

11. There are jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform considering her vocational profile and residual functional capacity, based upon the testimony of a qualified vocational expert and in light of the record as a whole.

12. The claimant is not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, beginning at any time on or before the date of this decision.

Issues

Plaintiff has raised the following issues:

1. By failing to include prior medical evidence, the ALJ failed to properly develop the record;

2. Improper rejection of treating physician's opinions;

3. Failure to properly credit plaintiff's testimony as to the extent of her limitations;

4. Failure to properly assess the residual functional capacity (RFC) and failure to credit the vocational expert's testimony with respect to a specific hypothetical;

5. The jobs available within plaintiff's RFC identified by the vocational expert were not consistent with the ...


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