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Jackson v. Barnhart

April 2, 2002

TRINITA JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JO ANNE B. BARNHART, COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document Nos.: 11, 20

MEMORANDUM OPINION

REMANDING THE CASE TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court for a review of the final decision of the defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), denying Trinita Jackson ("the claimant" or "the plaintiff"), Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 1382. Before the court are the plaintiff's motion for judgme nt of reversal and the defendant's motion for summary affirmance. In the alternative, both parties ask the court to remand this case for further proceedings. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions and the administrative record herein, the court remands this matter for further proceedings consistent with this Memorandum Opinion.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

The plaintiff applied for SSI payments on May 24, 1999 and the Commissioner denied her application on initial review and again on reconsideration. See Administrative Record ("AR") at 10. The plaintiff sought and received a hearing on July 25, 2000 before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Eugene Bonds. On November 2, 2000, the ALJ concluded that the plaintiff's impairment was not severe enough to meet any of the impairments recognized by the Act as conclusively disabling. See AR at 11. The ALJ further determined that the plaintiff had the residential functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work that would enable her employment in a significant number of jobs in the national economy. See AR at 17. The Social Security Administration ("SSA") Appeals Council denied the plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. See AR at 4-5. On June 4, 2001, the plaintiff filed her complaint with this court.

B. Factual History

Trinita Jackson was born on May 4, 1968 and was 32 years old at the time of the administrative hearing. See AR at 29. At the hearing, Ms. Jackson testified that she lives independently with her one child, a five year-old daughter. See id. Before 1993 and the onset of her alleged disability, the plaintiff's past work included work as a temporary retail clerk and a home health aide in a nursing agency. See AR at 63. Since 1993, the plaintiff has supported herself and her child through two programs, Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Food Stamps. *fn1 See AR at 59.

The plaintiff suffers from diabetes mellitus, first diagnosed in 1996. See AR at 92. At the administrative hearing, the plaintiff alleged that her impairment meets or equals that of diabetes mellitus with neuropathy. *fn2 See AR at 28-29. Her testimony and the medical records indicated that her condition results in severe pain in both of her feet, producing calluses, blisters, and lesions on her feet. See Pl.'s Mot. for J. of Rev. at 4. She noted that she is not able to walk on her toes, and consequently walks with a severe limp. See id.; AR at 142.

Ms. Jackson reported that the pain arising from her alleged disability limits her ability to perform many activities. See AR at 31-36, 83. While she can attend to household chores, such as cooking and doing laundry, the pain forces her to take several breaks for rest. See AR at 34. She sits down whenever she can when performing these activities. See id. She further testified that she walks her daughter to school every day, but requires 30 to 45 minutes to walk the approximately two blocks to school. See AR at 32-33. She no longer attends church because she cannot walk to the public transportation needed to get there. See AR at 35.

Several doctors treated and examined the plaintiff in connection with her diabetes mellitus -- the basis of her claim for disability benefits. Her treating physicians are Drs. Endeshaw and Hynes of The George Washington University Hospital. See AR at 256. Dr. Endeshaw reported that the plaintiff suffers from diabetic neuropathy and experiences "burning pain in both lower legs." See AR at 179. Dr. Hynes dia gnosed Ms. Jackson as having "severe diabetic neuropathy," "marked neuropathy," and "painful neuropathy." See AR at 159-60. These physicians also documented the plaintiff's difficulty walking and the intense pain she experiences. See, e.g., AR at 160, 201, 256.

III. STANDARD FOR REVIEW

In this section, the court explains the proper scope of a district court's review of a Social Security Commissioner's decision regarding a claimant's disability. The court also describes the appropriate legal standard, and ...


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