Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sloan v. Astrue

March 13, 2008

STANLEY SLOAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Deborah A. Robinson United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pending for determination by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge is Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment of Reversal (Document No. 7) and Defendant's Motion for Judgment of Affirmance (Document No. 10).

Upon consideration of the motions, the memoranda in support thereof and in opposition thereto and the entire record herein, the undersigned will deny Defendant's motion, grant Plaintiff's motion, and remand this action for further proceedings consistent with this Order.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, in this action, seeks judicial review of Defendant's final administrative decision denying his claims for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income Benefits.*fn1 Plaintiff moves for a judgment of reversal on the ground that Defendant's decision is not supported by substantial evidence, and is erroneous as a matter of law. In support of his motion, Plaintiff submits that the ALJ "[e]rroneously [r]elied" upon the testimony of the vocational expert who answered a hypothetical question posed by the ALJ which did not include an accurate and complete assessment of Plaintiff's impairments. Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment of Reversal ("Plaintiff's Memorandum") at 3-6; additionally, Plaintiff submits that the ALJ "[e]rroneously [e]valuated" Plaintiff's subjective complaints. Id. at 6-8. Alternatively, Plaintiff moves for an order pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) remanding this case to the Social Security Administration for a new administrative hearing at which the applicable standard will be applied by the Administrative Law Judge to the consideration of Plaintiff's subjective complaints, and all relevant evidence will be considered. Id. at 8.

Defendant moves for a judgment of affirmance on the ground that the final administrative decision is supported by substantial evidence, and that the hypothetical question which the ALJ asked the vocational expert accurately set forth all of Plaintiff's limitations. Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Motion for Judgment of Affirmance and in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment of Reversal ("Defendant's Memorandum") at 7-10. As a further ground of his motion, Defendant submits that "[t]he ALJ [c]orrectly [a]ssessed the [c]redibility of Plaintiff's [s]ubjective [c]complaints[,]" (see Defendant's Memorandum at 10); however, Defendant acknowledges that "the [ALJ] [failed] to articulate the sentence that forms the first step of the credibility analysis[.]" Id. at 11.

Plaintiff, in his opposition to Defendant's motion and reply to Defendant's opposition, reiterates his contention that the ALJ, in his hypothetical question to the vocational expert, failed to accurately describe Plaintiff's physical impairments. Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion for Judgment of Affirmance ("Plaintiff's Reply") (Document No. 12) at 1-2. Plaintiff again submits that as a consequence, "the Commissioner has failed to meet her burden at step five of the sequential evaluation process, and the final administrative decision of the Commissioner must be reversed." Id. at 3.

Defendant did not file a reply to Plaintiff's opposition.

DISCUSSION

Qualifying for Benefits

A claimant seeking to qualify for and receive disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act must establish that he or she is disabled within the meaning of the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 423(a)(1)(D). A claimant has a disability within the meaning of the Act when the claimant is unable "to engage in any substantial or gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months[.]" 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). With certain exceptions, however, a claimant will qualify "only if his . . . impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy[.] " 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A).

Evaluation Process

The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration follows a five-step sequential evaluation process to determine the claimant's eligibility. The sequential process includes a consideration of (1) whether the claimant is working; (2) the severity of the claimant's impairment(s); (3) whether the impairment(s) meets (meet) or equals (equal) the requirements of a listed impairment at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the Listings); (4) the claimant's "residual functional capacity" and past relevant work, to determine whether the claimant can return to his past relevant work; and if not, (5) whether the claimant can perform any other work that exists in the national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.

The claimant bears the burden of proof with respect to the initial four steps of this evaluation process, but the burden shifts to the Secretary (Commissioner) at the fifth and final step. E.g., Brown v. Bowen, 794 F.2d 703, 705-06. (D.C. Cir. 1986). Thus, if the claimant has demonstrated at step four his or her inability to perform past relevant work, "the SSA bears the burden of showing that jobs the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.