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Pamela Harris v. Michael J. Astrue

September 26, 2012

PAMELA HARRIS,
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 Pamela Harris'("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. §§ 1382c, 416, 423.

Plaintiff filed her complaint on January 31, 2011. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff filed her summary judgment motion on August 10, 2011. ( Doc. 12.) The Commissioner filed his summary judgment cross-motion and opposition on August 24, 2011. (Doc. 13.) Both parties have consented to conduct all proceedings before the assigned United States Magistrate Judge. (Doc. 7, 8.) The matter was reassigned to the undersigned magistrate judge on October 17, 2011. (Doc. 14.) 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 April 14, 2008, Plaintiff applied for Disability Insurance Benefits pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (the "Act"). (Administrative Record, "AR," at 84-94.) Plaintiff's application was denied on initial review and again on reconsideration. (AR at 34-42.) 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 16-33.) In a decision dated January 27, 2010, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Act. (AR at 9-15.) The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (AR at 1-5.) Plaintiff then commenced this action for judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

B. Medical History

The entire medical record was reviewed by the Court. (AR at 171-372.) The Court will refer to the medical evidence to the extent it is necessary to the Court's decision.

C. Testimony Presented At the Administrative Hearing

Plaintiff was born on January 14, 1954. (AR at 19.) Plaintiff completed a tenth grade education. (AR at 19.) Plaintiff currently lives in a home with her granddaughter and her significant other. (AR at 21.) Plaintiff's last employment activity was as an office worker and die-cast operator in 2008. (AR at 20.)

Plaintiff alleged disability beginning April 9, 2008, due to tendinitis, carpal tunnel, a torn rotator cuff and arthritis in her knees. (AR at 19, 26.) Plaintiff testified she does minimal household chores, and generally spends her days socializing with her friends. (AR at 22.) Plaintiff testified she can walk for about 15 minutes at a time, sit for an hour at a time and stand for 15-20 minutes. (AR at 25-28.) Plaintiff also testified she had only minimal grasping and manipulative abilities with her right hand. (AR at 26-30.)

A vocational expert (the "VE") testified at the Administrative Hearing. (AR at 30.) The VE testified that, based on Plaintiff's testimony, Plaintiff's past relevant work was categorized as a die-cast operator, and a general clerk. (AR at 31.) The ALJ questioned the VE about a hypothetical individual who could: sit for six hours out of an eight hour day; stand for six hours out of an eight hour day; walk for six hours out of an eight hour day; occasionally lift ten pounds; frequently lift less than 10 pounds; occasionally climb ladders; could not push or pull with the right upper extremity or work at or above the shoulder level with the right upper extremity. The VE testified that such an individual could not perform work as a diecasting operator, however, could perform work as a general clerk as it is performed in the national economy, as well as how it was performed by Plaintiff. (AR at 32.)

D. ALJ Findings

The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. Specifically, the ALJ found that:

1. Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: right rotator cuff tear; osteoarthritis ...


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