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Hale v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton

March 30, 2017

SUSAN HALE, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

         DECISION AND ENTRY: (1) REVERSING THE ALJ'S NON-DISABILITY FINDING AS UNSUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE; (2) REMANDING THIS CASE TO THE COMMISSIONER UNDER THE FOURTH SENTENCE OF 42 U.S.C. § 405(G) FOR PROCEEDINGS CONSISTENT WITH THIS OPINION; AND (3) TERMINATING THIS CASE ON THE COURT'S DOCKET

          Michael J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge.

         This Social Security disability benefits appeal is before the undersigned for disposition based upon the parties' full consent. Doc. 7. At issue is whether the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in finding Plaintiff not “disabled” and therefore unentitled to Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and/or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”).[1] This case is before the Court on Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 8), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 10), Plaintiff's reply (doc. 11), the administrative record (doc. 5, 6), [2] and the record as a whole.

         I.

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed for DIB and SSI alleging a disability onset date of October 17, 2006. PageID 221-31. Plaintiff suffers from a number of impairments including, among others, chronic back pain, obesity, diabetes, and depression. PageID 1027.

         After initial denial of her claims, Plaintiff received a hearing before ALJ Maria Hodges on October 12, 2011. PageID 66-107. The ALJ issued a written decision on October 26, 2011 finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 40-56. Plaintiff subsequently appealed ALJ Hodges's decision and the undersigned reversed her non-disability finding as unsupported by substantial evidence, and remanded the case for further proceedings. Hale v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 3:13-CV-195, 2014 WL 7176476, at *1-7 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 26, 2014).

         On remand, Plaintiff received a hearing before ALJ Elizabeth Motta on March 23, 2015. PageID 1059-92. ALJ Motta issued a decision on July 31, 2015 finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 1023-48. Specifically, the ALJ found:

1. The claimant met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2012.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 17, 2006, the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1571, et seq., and 416.971, et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, obesity, diabetes mellitus with nephropathy, depressive disorder, personality disorder with dependent features, borderline intellectual functioning versus learning disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1(20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity [“RFC”] to perform light work[3] as defined at 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), including lifting and carrying up to 20 pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, subject to some additional limitations. She can stand and walk a combined total of four hours during an eight-hour workday. Postural activities (i.e., climbing stairs and ramps, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling) can be done no more than occasionally. The claimant cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. She should not be exposed to hazards (e.g., unprotected heights or moving machinery). The claimant is limited to performing simple repetitive tasks; low stress work (i.e., no fixed production quotas or fast pace and only routine work with few changes in work setting). She should have no more than occasional contact with the public, co-workers and supervisors.
6. The claimant is unable to perform past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on July 22, 1967. At age 47 she is classified as a “younger individual” for Social Security purposes (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a high-school education (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. The claimant does not have “transferable” work skills within the meaning of the Social Security Act (20 CFR 404.1568 and 416.968).
10. 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 the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant was not “disabled, ” as defined in the Social Security Act, from October 17, 2006, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

         PageID 1023-48.

         Plaintiff did not seek Appeals Council review of ALJ Motta's decision. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d) (in a case remanded by a Federal Court, “[i]f no exceptions are filed and the Appeals Council does not assume jurisdiction of [the] case, the decision of the [ALJ] becomes the final decision of the Commissioner after remand”). Plaintiff now ...


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