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Cofield v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

December 3, 2014

Helene A. Cofield, Plaintiff,
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

KEVIN F. McDONALD, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the court for a report and recommendation pursuant to Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a) (D.S.C.), concerning the disposition of Social Security cases in this District, and Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B).[1]

The plaintiff brought this action pursuant to Sections 205(g) and 1631(c)(3) of the Social Security Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 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 benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

The plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits on March 2, 2011, alleging that she became unable to work on February 17, 2011. The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration by the Social Security Administration. On September 20, 2011, the plaintiff requested a hearing. The administrative law judge ("ALJ"), before whom the plaintiff and Esperanza Distefano, an impartial vocational expert appeared on May 15, 2012, considered the case de novo, and on June 6, 2012, found that the plaintiff was not under a disability as defined in the Social Security Act, as amended. The ALJ's finding became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security when the Appeals Council denied the plaintiff's request for review on July 31, 2013. The plaintiff then filed this action for judicial review.

In making the determination that the plaintiff is not entitled to benefits, the Commissioner has adopted the following findings of the ALJ:

(1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2015.
(2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 17, 2011, the alleged onset date (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1571 et seq. and 416.917 et. seq. ).
(3) The claimant had the following severe impairments:
bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, s/p remote release surgeries; status post right wrist arthroscopy; status post left shoulder arthroscopic surgeries; and status post right knee surgery (20 C.F.R. §§ 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 in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925, and 416.926).
(5) After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a); with no climbing of ladders, ropes, and scaffolding; occasional climbing ramps or stairs; occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling; the need to avoid concentrated exposure to respiratory irritants and hazards; no overhead work with the bilateral upper extremities; no more than frequent handling with the right upper extremity; the need to avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, extreme heat, or vibrations; and, the need to avoid all exposure to unprotected heights and hazardous machinery. The claimant is limited to performing simple 1 and 2-step work tasks in an environment with only occasional, casual, cursory interaction with the public and coworkers.
(6) The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1565 and 416.965).
(7) The claimant was born on June 29, 1968 and was 42 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563 and 416.963).

(8) The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1564 and 416.964).

(9) Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules support a finding that the claimant is "not disabled, " whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills ( see SSR 82-41 and 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).

(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 C.F.R. §§ 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
(11) The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from February 17, 2011, through the date of this decision (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

The only issues before the court are whether proper legal standards were applied and whether the final decision of the Commissioner ...


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