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Praveena Devi Nath v. Michael J. Astrue

June 13, 2012

PRAVEENA DEVI NATH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act ("Act"). For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is denied, defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment is granted, and judgment is entered for defendant.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born October 24, 1969, applied on November 2, 2007 for DIB alleging that she became disabled on May 1, 2007. (Tr. at 15, 120.) Plaintiff contended that she was unable to work primarily due to back pain, neck pain, a left knee injury, and severe headaches. (Tr. at 147.)

In a decision dated November 6, 2009, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Sara

A. Gillis determined that plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. at 26.) The ALJ made the following findings:*fn1

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2011.

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 1, 2007, the alleged onset date (20 CFR § 404.1571 et seq.).

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine with history of cervical, thoracic and lumbar strain, history of left knee arthroscopy with residual osteoarthritis, history of post concussive syndrome and benign positional vertigo and borderline intellectual functioning (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).

5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except the claimant can occasionally balance, kneel, crouch, climb ramps/stairs, and crawl; cannot climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds; must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards; and can perform simple repetitive tasks, i.e. unskilled labor only.

6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work

(20 CFR 404.1565).

7. The claimant was born on October 24, 1969 and was 37 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).

8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).

9. 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).

10. 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 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)).

11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from May 1, 2007 through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g)).

(Tr. at 15-26.)

ISSUES PRESENTED

Plaintiff's motion presents three issues for review: (1) whether the ALJ improperly rejected the opinion of plaintiff's treating physician; (2) whether the ALJ erred in failing to credit plaintiff's testimony and a third-party statement as to the nature and extent of her functional limitations; and (3) whether the ALJ erred in failing to credit the vocational expert's testimony in ...


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