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Sherry Shelton v. Michael J. Astrue

September 24, 2012

SHERRY SHELTON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara A. McAuliffe United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is plaintiff Sherry Shelton's ("Plaintiff") motion for summary judgment and the cross-motion for summary judgment of defendant Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"). Plaintiff seeks judicial review of an administrative decision denying her claim for Supplemental Security Income disability benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

Plaintiff filed her complaint on May 19, 2011. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff filed her summary judgment motion on December 23, 2011. ( Doc. 16.) The Commissioner filed his summary judgment cross-motion and opposition on January 20, 2012. (Doc. 17.) Both parties have consented to conduct all proceedings before the assigned United States Magistrate Judge. (Doc. 10, 11.) The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted without oral argument to United States Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe. Having considered the administrative record and the parties' briefs, the Court issues the following order.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Overview of Administrative Proceedings

On November 29, 2007, Plaintiff applied for Disability Insurance Benefits pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (the "Act") (Administrative Record, "AR," at13.) Plaintiff's application was denied on initial review and again on reconsideration. (AR at 67-116.) Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (the "ALJ"). On March 11, 2010, Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified before the ALJ. (AR at 28-66.) In a decision dated May 14, 2010, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Act. (AR at 13-21.) The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (AR at 1-3.) Plaintiff then commenced this action for judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

B. Plaintiff's Background

Plaintiff was born on February 25, 1961. (AR at 32.) Plaintiff lives in a home with her seventeen-year old son. (AR at 33.) Plaintiff receives food stamps. (AR at 33.) Plaintiff has a driver's license and does minimal driving. (AR at 34.) Plaintiff graduated from high school, but received no collegiate or vocational training. (AR at 34.) Plaintiff's last gainful employment activity was as a provider of in-home care. (AR at 38.)

C. Medical History

The entire medical record was reviewed by the Court. (AR at 229-613.) The Court summarizes the medical evidence to the extent it is necessary to this appeal.

On February 8, 2008, consultative examiner Rustom F. Damania, M.D., examined Plaintiff for complaints related to her back and knee pain, and other ailments. (AR at 301-305.) Dr. Damania opined that Plaintiff should be able to lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. (AR at 305.) He further opined that Plaintiff should be able to stand, walk and sit for six hours out of a normal workday. (AR at 305.) Dr. Damania also mentioned in his report that Plaintiff "feels she must have a cane at all times as she is afraid of falling and due to pain." (AR at 305.)

On February 27, 2008, state agency reviewing physician Charles A. Fracchia, M.D., completed a physical residual functional capacity assessment form where he opined that Plaintiff could lift 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. (AR at 311.) Dr. Fracchia further opined that Plaintiff could sit, stand or walk about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday and had no pushing or pulling limitations. (AR at 311.) Dr. Fracchia also opined that a medically required hand-held assistive device was necessary for ambulation and standing. (AR at 311.)

On July 10, 2008, after reviewing the medical evidence to date, state agency physician K. Quint, M.D., opined that Plaintiff was capable of lifting 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. (AR at 447.) Dr. Quint further opined that Plaintiff could stand, walk or sit for about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday and had no pushing or pulling limitations. (AR at 447.) Dr. Quint also opined that Plaintiff ...


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