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Jean A. Hanlon v. Commissioner of Social Security

December 17, 2010

JEAN A. HANLON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scullin, Senior Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Jean A. Hanlon brought this action pursuant to the Social Security Act ("the Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner"), denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). Currently before this Court are Plaintiff's and Defendant's cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, then forty-five, filed an application for DIB on or about August 19, 2004. See Administrative Record ("AR") at 16. In her disability report, Plaintiff cited spinal stenosis and carpal tunnel syndrome in both arms as her disabling conditions. See id. at 88. The Social Security Administration denied her request on November 22, 2004. See id. at 16, 59-61. Plaintiff filed a timely Request for a Hearing on December 3, 2004, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Elizabeth W. Konnecke in Syracuse, New York, on June 8, 2005. See id. at 353. Attorney Gregory Gilbert represented Plaintiff, who appeared and testified. See id. at 353, 355. ALJ Konnecke denied Plaintiff's claim on September 21, 2005. See AR at 50-57. Plaintiff filed a timely request for review on November 21, 2005. See id. at 39-46. The Appeals Council remanded the case for further consideration of the evidence on February 3, 2006. See id. at 36-38. A second hearing occurred on December 11, 2006, before ALJ Konnecke in Syracuse, New York. See id. at 378. Once again, Attorney Gregory Gilbert represented Plaintiff, who appeared and testified. See id. at 378, 380. Victor Alberigi, a vocational expert ("VE"), testified via telephone. See id. at 378, 382. The VE opined that Plaintiff could perform the work of a charge account clerk, a telemarketer, or a food order clerk. See id at 388-89. The ALJ again denied Plaintiff's claim on February 16, 2007. See id. at 16-27.

In her February 2007 decision, ALJ Konnecke made the following findings:

1) Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Act on December 31, 2008.

2) Plaintiff has not engaged in any substantial gainful activity since March 1, 2004, the amended alleged onset date.

3) Plaintiff experiences cervical spinal stenosis and bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, status post repair on the right and left sides. Both are severe impairments.

4) Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the "Listings").

5) Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to lift or carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, stand or walk for six hours in an eight-hour workday and sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday. Plaintiff is unable to engage in repetitive bending or twisting of the neck, repetitive use of the hands, and overhead lifting.

6) Plaintiff is unable to perform any of her past relevant work.

7) Plaintiff was forty-eight years old at the time of the decision, defined as a younger individual, aged forty-five to forty-nine.

8) Plaintiff has at least a high school education and can communicate in English.

9) Plaintiff has no transferable skills to either the light or sedentary level of exertion.

10) Given Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform.

11) Plaintiff has not been under a "disability" as defined in the Act from March 1, 2004, through the date of the ALJ's decision.

See AR at 19-27.

The ALJ's February 16, 2007 decision became the Commissioner's final decision on July 7, 2007, when the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration denied ...


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