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Rebecca Kreisher v. Michael J. Astrue

March 8, 2011

REBECCA KREISHER, 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 her application for disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. For the reasons discussed below, the court remands the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed an application for disability benefits on September 24, 2003, alleging adisability onset date of April 13, 2002. Administrative Record ("AR") 242. Her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. at 207-08. Three hearings were held on July 18, 2006, August 24, 2006, and November 28, 2006 before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") PeterF. Belli. Id. at 76, 109, 120. In a decision datedMarch 8, 2007, the ALJ determined plaintiff was not disabled.*fn1 Id. at 6-19. On August 12, 2007, the Appeals council remanded the case, ordering the ALJ to "give further consideration to the treating and examining source opinions . . . and explain the weight given to such opinion evidence," "give further consideration to the claimant's maximum residual functional capacity and provide appropriate limitations," and, "if warranted by the expanded record, obtain supplemental evidence from a vocational expert to clarify the effect of the assessed limitations on the claimant's occupational base." Id. at 210-11.

On remand, the same ALJ held two additional hearings on January 10, 2008 and May 15, 2008. Id. at 153, 162. Plaintiff was represented at the hearings by attorney Richard Smolich. Id.

A vocational expert and a medical expert testified. Id. at 24. On September 17, 2008, the ALJ issued an opinion finding that plaintiff was not disabled. The ALJ made the following specific findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2007.

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 13, 2002, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1520(b) and 404.1571 et seq.)

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: status post-lumbar diskectomy, lumbar degenerative disk disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, and depression (20 CFR 404.1520(c)). ...

4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets of medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526). ...

5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has a residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except she can lift, carry, push, and pull 5 pounds frequently and 10 pounds occasionally, sit for 8 of 8 hours with normal breaks, sit or stand at will, stand and walk for 2 out of 8 hours with no prolonged walking, no climbing or ladders or scaffolds, occasional crouching, crawling, and kneeling, and she is moderately limited in understanding, remembering, and carrying out detailed instructions, responding appropriately to work pressures and changes in routine work settings, and slightly limited in understanding, remembering, and carrying out short and simple instructions, making judgments on simple and detailed work-related decisions, and interacting appropriately with co-workers, supervisors, and the public. ...

6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work. (20 CFR 404.1565). ...

7. The claimant was born on January 18, 1967 and was 35 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability date (20 CFR 404.1563).

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

9. The claimant does not have acquired job skills from past relevant work which are transferable to a significant ...


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