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Janelle M. Hayes Mcalpine v. Michael J. Astrue

September 14, 2011

JANELLE M. HAYES MCALPINE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMM'R OF SOC. SEC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this action, filed by Janelle M. Hayes McAlpine ("Plaintiff") against Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue ("Defendant") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking Social Security benefits, are (1) Plaintiff's motion for judgment in her favor, affirming Defendant's final decision on remand (Dkt. No. 10), and (2) United States Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles's Report-Recommendation, issued pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 72.3(d) of the Local Rules of Practice for this Court, recommending that Plaintiff's motion be granted (Dkt. No. 12). For the reasons set forth below, Magistrate Judge Peebles' Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety; and Plaintiff's motion for a judgment in her favor is granted.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

Because neither party has filed an Objection to Part I of Magistrate Judge Peebles' Report-Recommendation, which sets forth the procedural background of this action, the Court adopts that part's description of this action's procedural background. (See generally Dkt. No. 12, at 3-5 [Report-Rec].)

On September 8, 2005, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") under the Social Security Act based on physical and mental impairments which left her unable to work.*fn1 (Dkt. No. 10 [Decision Upon Remand of the Appeals Council ("DUR")] at "Jurisdiction and Procedural History.")*fn2 On February 2, 2006, Plaintiff's application was denied. (Dkt. No. 10, Attach. 1, at 5.) Plaintiff subsequently requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), which was held on December 13, 2007. (Id.) After the hearing, the ALJ issued a decision, in which he determined that Plaintiff met the requirements for disability in August 2004, but found that Plaintiff's disability ended on November 2, 2005. (Id.) Plaintiff appealed this decision to the Appeals Council, who denied Plaintiff's request to review and vacate the ALJ's determination in a decision issued on May 14, 2010. (Id.)

On July 7, 2010, Plaintiff filed this action. (Dkt. No. 1.) In her Complaint, Plaintiff requests that the Court review the agency's decision, issue a finding that Plaintiff is entitled to DIB and SSI payments, and remand the case to the administrative agency for a further hearing. (Id.) Plaintiff's Complaint also requests an award of costs and attorney's fees under 28 U.S.C. § 2412 of the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA") on the grounds that Defendant's action in this case was not substantially justified. (Id.)

On November 5, 2010, Magistrate Judge Peebles issued an Order, on consent of the parties, remanding the action to the agency pursuant to sentence six of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) so that further action could be taken, "including vacating the Appeals Council's denial of [P]laintiff's request for review and allowing Plaintiff's counsel an opportunity to submit . . . additional evidence and/or contentions. . . ." (Dkt. Nos. 8 and 9.) On remand, the Appeals Council affirmed the portion of the ALJ's decision finding that Plaintiff had become disabled on August 30, 2004, and continued to be disabled through November 1, 2005, but determined that additional administrative proceedings were required to evaluate the period from November 2, 2005, and beyond. (Dkt. No. 10, Attach. 1 at 5.) As a result, the Appeals Council vacated the ALJ's decision regarding that period and remanded the matter for further proceedings. (Id. at 5-6.)

On June 2, 2011, after conducting a hearing, the then-assigned ALJ issued a decision, in which he found that, inter alia, Plaintiff has been disabled since November 2, 2005, and met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act. (Dkt. No. 10, Attach. 1 at 11.) This decision constitutes Defendant's final decision on remand.

On June 8, 2011, Plaintiff filed a letter-motion requesting that the Court enter judgment in her favor (thereby affirming Defendant's final decision on remand), which is a prerequisite to Plaintiff's counsel filing a motion for an award of attorney fees pursuant to the EAJA.

On June 15, 2011, Defendant filed a response indicating that Defendant had no objection to Plaintiff's motion for judgment subject to the issuance of a Report-Recommendation. (Dkt. No. 11.)

B. Magistrate Judge Peebles' Report-Recommendation

On July 12, 2011, Magistrate Judge Peebles issued a Report-Recommendation recommending that Plaintiff's motion for judgment be granted, and that the Clerk of the Court be directed to enter final judgment in Plaintiff's favor, affirming Defendant's final decision on remand. (Dkt. No. 12.) Neither party has filed an Objection to the ...


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