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Brown v. Saul

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 27, 2019

HELENE BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) finding that plaintiff's disability under sections 216(i) and 223(f) of the Social Security Act (“Act”) ended on October 15, 2014, and that plaintiff has not become disabled again since that date. The parties have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction to conduct all proceedings in the case, including the entry of final judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the court will deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grant the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, born in 1962, was found disabled beginning on January 1, 2005. Administrative Transcript (“AT”) 16, 27. The September 21, 2005 decision finding plaintiff disabled stated that she had bipolar disorder and curvature of the spine. AT 18. After a continuing disability review (“CDR”), the Commissioner found plaintiff no longer disabled as of October 15, 2014 due to medical improvement. See AT 16. Plaintiff asserted that she was still unable to work because of bipolar disorder, chronic low back pain, moderate bilateral scoliosis, alcoholism, and bilateral hearing loss. See AT 21.

         In the decision challenged herein, following an April 25, 2017 hearing and dated July 14, 2017, the ALJ determined that plaintiff's disability ended on October 15, 2014.[1] AT 16-28. The ALJ made the following findings (citations to 20 C.F.R. omitted):

1. The most recent favorable medical decision finding that the claimant was disabled is the determination dated September 21, 2005. This is known as the ‘comparison point decision' or CPD.
2. At the time of the CPD, the claimant had the following medically determinable impairments: bipolar disorder and curvature of the spine. These impairments were found to result in the residual functional capacity that markedly limited her ability to maintain attention and concentration, maintain regular attendance, and complete a normal workday and workweek without psychiatric symptom interruption and perform at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of rest periods.
3. Through the date of this decision, the claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity.
4. The medical evidence establishes that, since October 15, 2014, the claimant has had the following medically determinable impairments: tri-malleolar ankle fracture, status post open reduction and internal fixation; scoliosis; lumbar degenerative disc disease; partial hearing loss; and bipolar disorder. These are the claimant's current impairments.
5. Since October 15, 2014, the claimant has not had 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.
6. Medical improvement occurred on October 15, 2014.
7. The claimant's medical improvement is related to the ability to work because it resulted in an increase in the claimant's residual functional capacity.
8. Since October 15, 2014, the claimant has continued to have a severe impairment or combination of impairments.
9. Based on the impairments present since October 15, 2014, the claimant has had the residual functional capacity to perform light work except: no work in a loud environment and limited to simple repetitive tasks.
10. Since October 15, 2014, the claimant has been unable to perform past relevant work.
11. On October 15, 2014, the claimant was an individual closely approaching advanced age.
12. The claimant has at least a high-school education and is able to communicate in English.
13. Since October 15, 2014, 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.
14. Since October 15, 2014, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity based on the impairments present since October 15, 2014 the claimant has been able to perform a ...

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