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Kenner v. Berryhill

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 31, 2018

ANNETTE M. KENNER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, performing the duties and functions not reserved to the Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH A. ROBINSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Annette M. Kenner, pursuant to Section 405(g) of the Social Security Act (the “Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq., seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Defendant denying her application for disability insurance benefits.

         This action was assigned to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for all purposes. See 06/16/2017 Referral. Now pending for determination are Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Judgment of Reversal (“Plaintiff's Amended Motion”) (ECF No. 29) and Defendant's Motion for Judgment of Affirmance (ECF No. 16).[2] Upon consideration of the motions, the memoranda in support thereof and in opposition thereto (ECF Nos. 30, 33, 34, 35), the administrative record (“AR”) (ECF No. 7), and the entire record herein, Plaintiff's amended motion will be granted, and Defendant's motion will be denied.

         I. Background

         A. Procedural History

         On February 11, 2013, Plaintiff filed the application for benefits which is the subject of the HOD at issue in this action. AR at 22.[3] In that application, Plaintiff claimed “hypothyroidism, headaches, [hypertension], GI problems, and a visual impairment” with an alleged onset date of January 1, 2008. Id. at 82-91. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied Plaintiff's application initially and upon reconsideration. Id. at 95, 113. Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a hearing, see AR at 118, and appeared before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on January 30, 2015. Id. at 37. On March 26, 2015, the ALJ issued her determination, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. Id. at 22-31. On May 4, 2016, the Appeals Counsel denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision. Id. at 1, 18. Plaintiff then commenced the instant action.

         B. Summary of the ALJ's Ruling

         The ALJ ultimately concluded that Plaintiff (referred to by the ALJ as “the claimant”) was “not under a disability within the meaning of the Social Security Act from January 1, 2008, through the date last insured.” AR at 23. The ALJ made the following eleven findings:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2010.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of January 1, 2008 through her date last insured of December 31, 2010.
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: hypothyroidism with euthyroid Graves orbitopathy and headaches.
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant 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.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that, through the date last insured, the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work, as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) except: the claimant needed to avoid exposure to excessive noise (level four or above, as defined by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles); and the claimant was limited to occupations requiring no more than occasional near and peripheral visual acuity.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born on March 23, 1956 and was 54 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the date last insured.
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills.
10. Through the date last insured, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant No. in the national economy that the claimant could have performed.
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from January 1, 2008, the alleged onset date, through December ...

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