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Victoria J. Herzog v. Michael J. Astrue

October 26, 2012

VICTORIA J. HERZOG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMM'R OF SOC. SEC., DEFENDANT.



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

DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by Victoria J. Herzog ("Plaintiff") against the Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant" or "the Commissioner") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), are the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 12, 14.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted and Plaintiff's motion is denied.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff was born on March 10, 1955. She completed education through the 12th grade. During her life, Plaintiff has worked as a mold maker and finisher for a china manufacturing company. Generally, her alleged disability consists of arthritis, major depression and anxiety. Her alleged disability onset date is September 1, 2002, and her date last insured is December 31, 2007.

B. Procedural History

On August 3, 2007, Plaintiff applied for Social Security Disability Insurance. Plaintiff's application was initially denied, after which she timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("the ALJ"). On September 2, 2009, Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ. (T. 43-64.) The ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act on September 18, 2009. (T. 31-42.) On July 18, 2011, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 1-7.) Thereafter, Plaintiff timely sought judicial review in this Court.

C. The ALJ's Decision

Generally, in his decision, the ALJ made the following five findings of fact and conclusions of law. (T. 36-42.) First, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity between her alleged onset date and her date last insured. (T. 36.) Second, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's depression and anxiety are severe impairments. (Id.) Third, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments located in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix. 1. (T. 36-38.) The ALJ considered listings 12.04 and 12.06. (Id.) Fourth, the ALJ found that, through the date last insured, Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, except that she is limited to unskilled work. (T. 38-42.) Fifth, and finally, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is able to perform her past relevant work, which does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by her RFC, and therefore, Plaintiff is not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T. 42.)

II. THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION

A. Plaintiff's Arguments

Plaintiff makes two arguments in support of her motion for judgment on the pleadings. First, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in failing to apply the treating physician rule when he assigned little weight to the opinion of Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist. (Dkt. No. 12 at 8-11 [Pl.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred when he failed to apply the appropriate legal standards in assessing her credibility. (Id. at 11-16.)

B. Defendant's Arguments

In response, Defendant makes two arguments. First, Defendant argues that the ALJ properly evaluated the medical opinions of record in determining Plaintiff's RFC. (Dkt. No. 14 at 8-12 [Def.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Defendant argues that the ...


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