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Maria Gloria Zapatalozano v. Michael J. Astrue

May 24, 2011

MARIA GLORIA ZAPATALOZANO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. SUMMARY

On August 11, 2010, plaintiff Maria Gloria Zapata-Lozano ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of plaintiff's application for benefits. The parties have consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, respectively ("Plaintiff's Motion") and ("Defendant's Motion"). The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15; August 18, 2010 Case Management Order, ¶ 5.

Based on the record as a whole and the applicable law, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. The findings of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") are supported by substantial evidence and are free from material error.*fn1

II. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

On January 21, 2004 and February 28, 2005, plaintiff filed applications for Supplemental Security Income benefits and Disability Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 23, 24). Plaintiff asserted that she became disabled on February 1, 2001, due to carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid*fn2 arthritis, joint, back, neck and right hand pain, diabetes, high cholesterol, headaches from medications, and depression. (AR 23, 113). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel) and a vocational expert on October 18, 2007, and January 14, 2008. (AR 675, 687).

On July 22, 2008, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was disabled for the closed period of February 1, 2001 through March 30, 2003 but that, due to medical improvement (i.e., the severity of plaintiff's rheumatoid arthritis no longer met the criteria of Listing 14.09D of 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1), plaintiff was not disabled from April 1, 2003 through the date of the decision. (AR 24, 28-29). The ALJ also found that beginning on April 1, 2003 (1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, non-toxic goiter, spondylosis of the lumbosacral spine, hypertension, bradycardia, depression, and migraine headaches (AR 27);

(2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments (AR 29);

(3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, stand and/or walk for six out of eight hours, and sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday with certain exertional limitations (AR 29);*fn3

(4) plaintiff could not perform her past relevant work (AR 33);

(5) there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform, specifically cafeteria attendant, assembly machine tender, and product assembler (AR 34); and

(6) plaintiff's allegations regarding her limitations were not entirely credible (AR 30).

The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's application for review. (AR 6-8).

III. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Sequential Evaluation ...


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