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Dodds v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division

February 24, 2015

KAMEI ANN DODDS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

VICTOR B. KENTON, Magistrate Judge.

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:

1. Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered if Plaintiff meets or equals Listing 1.03, or in the alternative, Listing 1.02.

(JS at 2-3.)

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 CONSIDERED THE EVIDENCE AND DETERMINED THAT PLAINTIFF DID NOT MEET OR EQUAL ANY LISTING

Plaintiff sustained severe injuries in an automobile accident, and later applied for SSI, asserting an onset date of disability of February 27, 2009. After administrative denials, she requested and received a hearing before an ALJ, which occurred on January 9, 2013, at which time Plaintiff appeared with counsel, provided testimony, and the ALJ also took testimony from a vocational expert ("VE"). (AR 20-38.)

Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable Decision. (AR 10-16.) The ALJ followed the familiar five-step sequential evaluation process (See 20 CFR § 416.920(a)) and in the course of that analysis, determined, in pertinent part, that Plaintiff has severe impairments of greater trochanteric bursitis involving the right hip, leg length discrepancy status post rodding of the right femur, an impingement syndrome involving the right shoulder, a right ankle sprain with Achilles tendinitis and status post internal fixation of the calcaneus. (AR 12.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meet or medically equal any of the Listings, and then determined Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC") to perform light work with certain exertional limitations. (AR 12.) Relying on the testimony of the VE, and noting that Plaintiff does not have past relevant work, the ALJ made a Step Five determination that there are available jobs that Plaintiff can perform. Thus, a non-disability finding was made.

In Plaintiff's single issue, she asserts that the ALJ did not properly consider whether she meets or equals Listing 1.03, or in the alternative, 1.02. For the following reasons, the Court does not find merit in Plaintiff's issue, and determines that the ALJ's Decision will be affirmed.

Before turning to the ALJ's evaluation of the evidence, the Court will briefly review the requirements of Listing 1.00, entitled "Musculoskeletal System." The Listing requires that there be a "loss of function" (see 1.00B), and that is defined as follows under 1.00B.2.a in pertinent part as follows:

"Regardless of the cause(s) of a musculoskeletal impairment, functional loss for purposes of these listings is defined as the inability to ambulate effectively on a sustained basis for any reason, including pain associated with the underlying musculoskeletal impairment, or the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively on a sustained basis for any reason, ..."

The Listing then goes on to define "What we mean by failure to ambulate effectively, under § ...


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