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MACCIACHERA v. SHALALA

July 22, 1995

MARGARET M. MACCIACHERA, Plaintiff,
v.
DONNA SHALALA, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS J. MCAVOY

 DECISION AND ORDER

 Plaintiff Margaret Macciachera brought this suit against the above captioned defendant under section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), to review a final determination of the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("Secretary"), denying in part the plaintiff's claim of Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits ("SSI").

 This matter was referred to Magistrate Judge David Hurd pursuant to a standing order dated March 22, 1984, setting forth the procedure to be followed in appeals from a denial of Social Security benefits. Plaintiff commenced the present action in Federal Court on January 3, 1994, seeking review of the Secretary's decision.

 After considering the issues and the record as a whole, the magistrate judge issued a report recommendation, dated November 8, 1994, in which he agreed that the medical record supported a conclusion of total disability, but as to the date of onset, the magistrate judge found that the record supported no other conclusion than the onset date alleged by plaintiff. The magistrate recommended that this case be remanded to the Secretary solely for the calculation of benefits from an onset date of December 1, 1988. Defendant subsequently filed objections to the magistrate's report and recommendation on November 23, 1994 and plaintiff filed a response to defendant's objections on December 12, 1994. This matter was referred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York on November 30, 1994. The court herein addresses the objections and responses raised by the parties to the magistrate-judge's Report-Recommendation.

 I. BACKGROUND:

 A. Procedural History

 The only issue Plaintiff raised on her appeal from the administrative hearing concerns the ALJ's determination that August 16, 1990 was the onset date of her disability. The Appeals Council denied her appeal on November 4, 1993 and plaintiff thereafter commenced the present action in federal court on January 3, 1994, seeking review of the Secretary's decision.

 B. The ALJ's Analysis

 The regulations of the Secretary mandate that the ALJ follow a five step evaluation process to determine if an individual is disabled. See, 20 C.F.R. section 404.1520. The five steps were discussed at length in the magistrate judge's report and recommendation and the parties have no dispute with respect to the application of the evaluation steps in the instant action; the parties merely dispute the ALJ's onset date determination arrived at under steps 4 and 5.

 In the first step of the evaluation, the ALJ found the claimant-plaintiff not to have engaged in substantial gainful employment since December 1, 1988. In the second step, the ALJ made the determination that the claimant had a severe impairment. Under the third step, the ALJ found that the claimant was not per se disabled, as her impairments did not meet or equal an impairment listed in Appendix I, subpart P, 20 C.F.R. section 404.1520(d).

 Step four, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. 404.1520 (e), called upon the ALJ to determine whether the claimant retained the ability to perform her past relevant work as a bookkeeper, and if not, then step five required the ALJ to determine whether there was any other work which existed in significant numbers in the national economy. See, 20 C.F.R. section 404.1566(a)(b); New York v. Sullivan, 906 F.2d 910, 913 (2d Cir 1990). Under step four, the ALJ found the claimant unable to perform her past relevant work as a bookkeeper since August 16, 1990. Further, under step five, the ALJ found no work in significant numbers to exist in the national economy which plaintiff could perform after August 16, 1990. As the Court reviews the ALJ's determination it must find that each step ...


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