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Clemmer v. Colvin

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

September 30, 2014

KIMBERLY L. CLEMMER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, [1] Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM L. OSTEIN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Kimberly Clemmer ("Plaintiff") brought this action pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g)), to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (the "Act"). The parties have filed cross-motions for judgment, and the administrative record has been certified to the court for review.[2] For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's motion will be granted, Plaintiff's motion will be denied, and the case will be dismissed.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed her application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") on January 9, 2008, alleging a disability onset date of October 31, 2007. (Tr. at 15, 107-14.) Her application was denied initially (Tr. at 70, 89-92) and upon reconsideration (Tr. at 69, 93-95). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. at 58.) Plaintiff, along with her attorney and an impartial vocational expert, attended the subsequent hearing on October 17, 2008. (Tr. at 75.) Although the ALJ ultimately determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act (Tr. at 81), the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration subsequently granted Plaintiff's request for review of the decision and remanded the case for a new hearing (Tr. at 86-87).

Following a second hearing on September 18, 2009, at which Plaintiff, an impartial vocational expert, and an impartial medical expert testified, the ALJ again denied Plaintiff's DIB claim. (Tr. at 15-29.) The Appeals Council subsequently 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 4-6.)

In rendering his disability determination on remand, 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 December 31, 2012.
2. There is no evidence in the record that the claimant has engaged in any substantial gainful activity since October 31, 2007, the claimant's alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1520(b) and 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ); fibromyalgia; diabetes mellitus; obesity; sleep apnea; depression; anxiety; and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (20 CFR 404.1520(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 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity from a physical standpoint to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). The claimant is able [to] lift up to 20 pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently. She is able to stand and/or walk for up to six hours and sit for up to two hours in an eight hour work day. The claimant has no postural, manipulative, visual, communicative, or environmental limitations. However, due to the combined effects of her mental impairments and pain, the claimant is limited to "unskilled" work performing simple, routine, repetitive tasks in an environment with limited interaction with supervisors, coworkers, and the public.

(Tr. at 17-20.)

The ALJ determined that the demands of Plaintiff's past relevant work exceeded the above residual functional capacity ("RFC"). (Tr. at 26-27.) However, the ALJ then considered Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, along with the vocational expert's testimony regarding these factors, and found that Plaintiff could perform other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. at 27-28.) Accordingly, he concluded that Plaintiff was ...


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