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Tammye Burnham v. Michael J. Astrue

March 24, 2011

TAMMYE BURNHAM, 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 Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act ("Act"). For the reasons discussed below, defendant's motion for summary judgment is denied, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is granted and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born March 28, 1963, filed an application for SSI on January 23, 2007.

Administrative Record ("AR") 13. She had previously filed applications for SSI and Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") between 1998 and 2001, which were denied. Id. at 13-14. Plaintiff's January 23, 2007 application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, and plaintiff requested an administrative hearing. Id. at 16, 56. On January 14, 2009, a hearing was held before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). Id. at 353-399. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing, and testified at the hearing, along with vocational expert David M. Dettmer. Id.

The ALJ issued a decision on March 6, 2009, finding that plaintiff was not disabled.*fn1 Id. at 13-27. The ALJ noted that plaintiff had filed prior applications for benefits and applied the presumption of continuing non-disability.*fn2 The ALJ found that plaintiff had "submitted sufficient new and material evidence" regarding her medical condition to rebut the presumption of continuing non-disability. Id. at 17. Specifically, the ALJ found:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her amended alleged disability onset date of January 23, 2007 (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.). ...

2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: sarcoidosis/pulmonary fibrosis with restrictive pulmonary disease and diabetes mellitus (20 CFR 416.921 et seq.). ...

3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 416.925 and 416.926).

4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform substantially the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except that she has environment limitations that preclude concentrated exposure to humidity, noise, vibration, hazards, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, smoke, solvents, cleaners and chemicals....

5. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a claims examiner. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 416.965). ...

6. The claimant was born on March 28, 1963 and was 43 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 45-49, on the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).

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

8. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is "not disabled," whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).

9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the ...


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