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Florence Wratten v. Michael J. Astrue

September 14, 2011

FLORENCE WRATTEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR B. Kenton United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

(Social Security Case)

This matter is before the Court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the Magistrate Judge. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the record before the Commissioner. The parties have filed the Joint Stipulation ("JS"), and the Commissioner has filed the certified Administrative Record ("AR").

Plaintiff raises the following issue:

Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly found that Plaintiff could perform other work in the national economy. (JS at 3-5.)

This Memorandum Opinion will constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed.

I

THE ALJ PROPERLY FOUND THAT PLAINTIFF COULD PERFORM OTHER WORK

Plaintiff contends that the ALJ's finding that she could perform other work in the national economy was not supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ erred in finding that she had transferable skills without also showing that very little vocational adjustment was required. (JS at 3-5.)

The ALJ found that Plaintiff was an individual of advanced age at all times relevant to the decision and had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §404.1567(b), except that she was limited to frequent climbing, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching and crawling, and must avoid all exposure to pulmonary irritants such as dusts, fumes, gases and odors. (AR 56, 60.) Plaintiff does not dispute the correctness of these findings.

At Plaintiff's administrative hearing (AR 7-42), the ALJ posed to the vocational expert ("VE") hypothetical questions which included all of Plaintiff's limitations. (AR 37-38.) In response, the VE stated that an individual of Plaintiff's age, education, work experience and RFC could not perform her past work as a general duty nurse. (AR 37-38.) Next, the ALJ asked if such an individual could perform other work in the national economy. The VE responded,

"Yes, Your Honor. An individual such as you have just described could perform two occupations based on transferable skills. This individual could perform the occupation medical assistant, DOT code 079362010. Light exertion, skilled, specific vocational preparation level six... . Another occupation to which an individual who had been a general duty nurse would have transferable skills is the occupation phlebotomist. This is DOT code 079364022.

This work is light in exertion. It is semi-skilled with a specific vocational preparation level of three . . . . (AR 38.) Based on this testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff had acquired work skills from her past relevant work as a registered nurse and could perform other work in the national ...


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