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Kyler v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

May 30, 2014

WANDA KYLER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant

WANDA A. KYLER, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington, DC.

For WANDA A. KYLER, Plaintiff: Christine P. Benagh, LEAD ATTORNEY, COLLIER-BENAGH LAW, PLLC, Washington, DC.

For CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant: Mary Ellen Russell, LEAD ATTORNEY, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Office of the General Counsel, Baltimore, MD.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ELLEN SEGAL HUVELLE, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Wanda Kyler seeks judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the denial of social security disability insurance benefits (" DIB" ) on November 2, 2012, following a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ" ). Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Reversal of Judgment (Dkt. # 18) and the Social Security Commissioner's Motion for Judgment of Affirmance (Dkt. # 21). Upon consideration of the parties' submissions and the Administrative Record (" AR) (Dkt. # 20), the Court will grant plaintiff's motion, deny defendant's motion, and remand the case to the agency for further proceedings.

BACKGROUND

At the relevant time period, plaintiff was a 56-year-old woman who resided in Pineville, South Carolina, and performed clerical duties as an employee of the county school system from 1996 to 2004. (AR 28, 37, 186.) On November 29, 2011, plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB, alleging that she became unable to work due to a disabling condition on September 1, 2004. (AR 13, 122.) During a hearing on October 5, 2012, in Charleston, South Carolina, plaintiff amended her claim to reflect the disability date as December 28, 2008, when she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. (AR 42.) In her DIB application, plaintiff listed thirteen disabling conditions, which included chronic asthma, arthritis, high blood pressure, acid reflux, allergy, carpal tunnel, tiredness, shortness of breath, continuing cough, and hoarseness. In addition, she listed " ears . . . spit a great deal," and the fact that she wore a knee brace on both knees. (AR 143.) Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. (AR 52, 60-64.) Her request for a hearing was granted.

Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the October 5, 2012 hearing where she testified and presented one witness whom she had known for approximately two years and had visited with once a week. (AR 25-51.) The ALJ also considered a letter submitted on plaintiff's behalf by Dr. Adebola E. Rojugbokan of the Franklin C. Fetter Cross Family Health Center (" Cross Health Center" ) who wrote on October 4, 2012, that she began treating plaintiff on December 9, " 2009." (AR 390.)[1] Dr. Rojugbokan wrote that plaintiff " suffers from severe sarcoidosis/ asthma," and opined that plaintiff's condition " causes her to be unable to perform her activities of daily living." ( Id. ) Dr. Rojugbokan further stated that plaintiff " says she has been unable to perform any work activities. Disability would have commenced January 2009 to present." ( Id. ) Dr. Rojugbokan offered to provide further assistance and additional information if needed.

The ALJ denied plaintiff's claim by written decision dated November 2, 2012. (AR 13-20.) The ALJ found in relevant part that plaintiff (1) had not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the relevant time period between December 28, 2008 and December 31, 2009, (2) had " severe impairments" of obesity, asthma, and sarcoidosis,

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(3) " did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1," (4) " had the residual functional capacity [" RFC" ] to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except no climbing, no exposure to hazards, no exposure to temperature extremes, or pollen," (5) was capable of " performing past relevant work as a school administrator," which " did not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by" plaintiff's RFC, and (6) was not disabled under the Social Security Act at the relevant time period. (AR 15-16.)

The Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ's decision on March 12, 2013, finding, among other things, that the new medical records plaintiff had presented dated from November 20, 2012, did not cover the time period underlying the ALJ's decision (through December 31, 2009) (AR 2-3.) Plaintiff, now residing in the District of ...


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