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Elisha N. Braithwaite v. Commissioner of Social Security

March 30, 2011

ELISHA N. BRAITHWAITE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff, who is proceeding with retained counsel, brings this action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Pursuant to the written consent of all parties, this case is before the undersigned as the presiding judge for all purposes, including entry of final judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pending before the court are plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 24) and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. 28). For the reasons discussed below, the court will deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment or remand and grant the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY*fn1

Plaintiff applied for social security benefits on April 20, 2007, alleging an onset of disability on December 20, 2005, due to physical impairments. (Certified administrative record ("CAR") 77, 81, 101-107, 113-121). Specifically, plaintiff claims disability based on impairments due to congestive heart failure, gout, hypertension, diabetes, and anemia. (CAR 114). Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, which was held on December 4, 2008, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") L. Kalei Fong. In an April 24, 2009, decision, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff is not disabled*fn2 based on the following findings:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 20, 2007, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).

2. The claimant has the following severe combination of impairments: Congestive heart failure, gout, hypertension, diabetes, anemia, and obesity (20 CFR 416.920(c)).

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 the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b)*fn3 however he must only occasionally climb ramps or stairs, never climb ladders or scaffolds, and can frequently balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl.

[5]. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).

[6]. The claimant was born on September 15, 1955 and was 51years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, 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 applying the Medical-Vocational Rules directly supports a finding of "not disabled," whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).

The claimant bears the burden of proof in the first four steps of the sequential evaluation process. Bowen, 482 U.S. at 146 n.5. The Commissioner bears the burden if the sequential evaluation process proceeds to step five. Id.

[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 claimant can perform (20 CFR 416.969 and 416.969a).

[10]. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since April 20, 2007, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).

CAR 8-17. After the Appeals Council declined review on August 20, 2009, this appeal followed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The court reviews the Commissioner's final decision to ...


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