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Billups v. Astrue

March 1, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge



Plaintiff, Michelle Billups ("Billups") filed this action pursuant to the Social Security Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), seeking review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("Disability"), and Supplemental Security Insurance ("SSI"). On March 2, 2009, the Commissioner moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and on July 17, 2009, plaintiff cross-moved for judgment on the pleadings.

For the reasons that follow, I find that substantial evidence supports the decision of the ALJ. Accordingly, plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied and defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted.


Plaintiff is a 50 year old woman with an eleventh grade education. (Tr. 108, 128, 286, 195, 295) She alleges that she has been disabled since April 2, 1997 because of anemia, osteopenia, cubital tunnel syndrome and complications associated with a gunshot wound. (Tr. 104, 124) On April 8, 2003, Billups filed an application for Disability and SSI. (Tr. 104-105) Her application was denied initially on June 25, 2003. (Tr. 48-51) Plaintiff requested a hearing which was held on August 22, 2006 at which plaintiff appeared before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") and was represented by counsel and a vocational expert appeared and testified. (Tr. 282-320) By decision dated November 2, 2006, the ALJ found Billups was not disabled. (Tr. 14-23) Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council. The decision of the ALJ became final when the Appeals Council denied review on July 18, 2008. (Tr. 4-7) Plaintiff commenced this action on September 17, 2008.

A. Medical Background

Billups presented to the emergency room 1999 and in June 2000 for excessive vaginal bleeding and urinary tract infections. (Tr. 187, 188) On April 30, 2001 Billups again sought treatment at the emergency room after slipping and falling down ten stairs causing pain to her lower back and right hip. (Tr. 185-86) She was given Lortab for the pain,

An ultrasound image taken on February 12, 2002 showed that plaintiff had bilateral ovarian cysts with small amount of fluid in the adnexal regions, (Tr. 173) Billups was diagnosed with painful ovarian cysts and dysmennorhea. (Tr. 183)

Billups was admitted to the Erie County Medical Center on September 30, 2002 for a hysterectomy to treat persistent endometrial hyperplasia. (Tr. 158) The operation went well and she was discharged in good condition on October 3, 2002. (Tr. 158)

On October 22, 2002, Billups presented to the emergency with complaints of lower abdominal pain. (Tr. 181) She was diagnosed with cystitis and directed to increase fluids and directed to take Tylenol as needed and prescribed an antibiotic. (Tr. 181)

In response to plaintiff's complaints of hip pain and limitation of movement, an x-ray image was taken on February 28, 2003. (Tr. 172) The image showed no evidence of acute fracture or dislocation. (Tr. 172)

An independent medical examination of plaintiff was conducted on June 11, 2003. (Tr. 189-192) Dr. Christine Holland assessed plaintiff's chief complaints of anemia, left hip problems associated with a gunshot wound sustained in 1993 and asthma. Billups reported that she was able to cook three days a week and cleans two days a week. She is able to shop and take care of her own daily care needs. (Tr. 190) She had a normal stance and gait and did not need any assistance getting on and off the examination table. (Tr. 190) Dr. Holland did find that plaintiff had good range of motion of the left hip but she had a depressed oval area of six centimeters at the head of the hip. Plaintiff experienced pain when the area was abducted. (Tr. 191) The range of motion is normal but does cause pain. Dr. Holland concluded that plaintiff had "mild limitations to prolonged standing, twisting, heavy lifting and repetitive use of the left lower extremity." (Tr. 192)

A Physical Residual Functional Capacity report was completed on June 24, 2003 which found that plaintiff could occasionally life or carry up to 20 pounds, frequently lift or carry 10 pounds, stand or walk about six hours in an eight hour day, sit about six hours in an eight hour day and is limited in the lower extremities with pushing and pulling. (Tr. 194) Plaintiff still had multiple pellets over the ...

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