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Collins v. Colvin

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

February 25, 2015

SANDRA FARMER COLLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

L. PATRICK AULD, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Sandra Farmer Collins, brought this action pursuant to the Social Security Act (the "Act") to obtain judicial review of a final decision of Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security, denying Plaintiff's claim for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). (Docket Entry 1.) The Court has before it the certified administrative record (cited herein as "Tr. ___"), as well as the parties' cross-motions for judgment (Docket Entries 14, 18). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Plaintiff and should remand this matter for an award of benefits.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed an application for SSI on November 30, 2009 (protective filing date), alleging a disability onset date of November 1, 2009. (Tr. 144-50.) Upon denial of that application initially (Tr. 49-62, 78-81) and on reconsideration (Tr. 63-77, 86-95), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") (Tr. 96-97). Plaintiff, her attorney, and a vocational expert ("VE") attended the hearing. (Tr. 25-48.) By decision dated July 11, 2012, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 9-21.) On September 13, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6), making the ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review.

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

1. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 30, 2009, the application date
2. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: [i]schemic heart disease, myocardial infarction status post stenting, coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus type II, peripheral neuropathy, obesity, mild mental retardation/borderline intellectual functioning and major depression.
....
3. [Plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
....
4.... [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform light work... except that she can lift 10 pounds frequently and 20 pounds occasionally; sit up to 6 hours and stand/walk up to 6 hours in an eight hour work day but must be allowed to alternate between sitting and standing at least two times each hour. She is limited to occasional climbing of stairs and ramps, balancing, stooping, kneeling, couching, and crawling, but must avoid climbing ladders, ropes[, ] scaffolds and unprotected heights. She can follow short, simple (not detailed) instructions and perform routine tasks. She is able to sustain attention and concentration for two hours at a time, but cannot work at production rate or demand pace. [Plaintiff] can perform work involving only occasional public contact and interaction; should avoid work environments dealing with crisis situations, constant changes in routine settings and complex decision making.
....
5. [Plaintiff] is unable to perform any past ...

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