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Corinna Dunlap v. Michael J. Astrue

March 25, 2011

CORINNA DUNLAP, 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 Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's motion is granted, defendant's motion is denied, and the case is remanded for proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born September 9, 1968, formally applied for DIB on June 14, 2006.

Administrative Record ("AR") 83. Plaintiff's application alleged that she had been disabled since June 17, 2005. Id. at 7. Her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, and plaintiff requested an administrative hearing. Id. On July 24, 2008, a hearing was held before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Peter Belli. Id. at 28. Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified at the hearing, along with vocational expert Jim Vaneck. Id.

The ALJ issued a decision on July 24, 2008, finding that plaintiff was not disabled.*fn1 Id. at 7-17. The ALJ made the following specific findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2010.

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 17, 2005, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1520(b) and 404.1571 et seq.). ...

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: Status post surgery for Thoracic outlet syndrome in her left side (shoulder, arm and hand), Cervical degenerative disc disease, and depression (20 CFR 404.1520(c)). ...

4. 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 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526). No treating or examining physician has mentioned findings equivalent in severity to the criteria of any listed impairment. ...

5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). She can lift, carry, push, and/or pull 20 pounds occasionally with her right upper extremity and 10 pounds with her left upper extremity. She is able to use her left hand as a helper hand. She can sit, stand and walk 8 hours out of an 8-hour day with normal breaks. She can do no work above the shoulder with the left upper extremity. She is limited to occasional reaching in the remaining directions with the left upper extremity. She is able to frequently twist her head and neck. She is not able to climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She is not able to crawl. She is not limited in her ability to receive, remember, understand and carry out short, simple instructions. She is not limited in her ability to interact appropriately with the public, supervisors, and co-workers. ...

5.(sic) The claimant is capable of performing her past relevant work as a Customer Service Representative. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565). ...

6. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from June 17, 2005 through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).Id.

Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision. However, on October 15, 2009, the Appeals Council denied review, leaving the ALJ's decision as the "final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security." Id. at 1-3.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

The Commissioner's decision that a claimant is not disabled will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record and the proper legal standards were applied. Schneider v. Comm'r of ...


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