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Webster v. Colvin

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

August 15, 2014

EDNA WEBSTER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, [1] Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Edna Webster, brought this action pursuant to Sections 205(g) and 1631(c)(3) of the Social Security Act (the "Act"), as amended (42 U.S.C. ยงยง 405(g) and 1383(c)(3)), to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claims for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income under, respectively, Titles II and XVI of the Act. The parties have filed cross-motions for judgment, and the administrative record has been certified to the Court for review.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff protectively filed her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income on October 18, 2007, alleging a disability onset date of February 20, 2007. (Tr. 11, 139-52.)[2] Her applications were denied initially (Tr. at 83-87) and upon reconsideration (Tr. at 93-101). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. at 102-03.) Plaintiff, along with her attorney and an impartial vocational expert, attended the subsequent hearing on November 10, 2009. (Tr. at 11.) The ALJ ultimately determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act (Tr. at 19) and, on December 9, 2010, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the decision, thereby making the ALJ's conclusion the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review (Tr. at 1-3).

In rendering his disability determination, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2012.
2. There is no evidence in the record that the claimant has engaged in any substantial gainful activity since February 20, 2007, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: lumbar degenerative disc disease with radiculopathy, arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma and major depression (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 one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1525(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.925 and 416.926).
....
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift and carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently. The claimant needs a sit/stand option, and can only perform routine, repetitive work due to her complaints of depression and/or anxiety for which she is on medication. While the claimant has indicated that she take Plaquenil for lupus, the undersigned could find no such diagnosis in the record and certainly no reports of extensive treatment for such a disease.

(Tr. at 13-15.)

The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and the above residual functional capacity ("RFC") and determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her past relevant work. However, he found that Plaintiff could perform other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. at 18.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Plaintiff was not under a ...


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