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Karen Denice Edmondson v. Michael J. Astrue

June 25, 2012

KAREN DENICE EDMONDSON, 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 Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act ("Act"). On May 15, 2012, the undersigned ordered further briefing on the issue of whether the ALJ should have analyzed whether plaintiff met Listing 7.02 or whether her non-compliance with treatment excused the ALJ from this analysis. The parties have now submitted further briefing which has been considered. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED IN PART, the Commissioner's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED, and this matter is remanded to the ALJ for further findings as directed in this opinion. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment for plaintiff.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born March 11, 1958, applied on May 22, 2008, for disability benefits, with a protective filing date of April 8, 2008. (Tr. at 114, 17.) Plaintiff alleged she was unable to work since April 1, 2008, due to multiple pulmonary problems including shortness of breath, blood clots and high blood pressure. (Id. at 127.) In a decision dated February 18, 2010, ALJ Laura Speck Havens determined that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 17-25.) The ALJ made the following findings:*fn1

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 8, 2008, the application date. (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.)

2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), venous insufficiency 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 416.920(d), 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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except she can sit, stand and/or walk for 6 hours ou[t] of an 8-hour workday, can push or pull with her lower extremities on an occasional basis, can occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl, and must avoid moderate exposure to heights, moving machinery, humidity, dust, fumes, smoke and temperature extremes.

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

6. The claimant was born on March 11, 1958 and was 50 years 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 an issue in this case because the claimant's past relevant work is unskilled (20 CFR 416.968).

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

10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since April 8, 2008, the date the ...


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