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Kelli Anne Bentley v. Commissioner of Social Security

November 20, 2012


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


Currently before the Court, in this action filed by Kelli Anne Bentley ("Plaintiff") against the Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking Social Security benefits, is the Report-Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Andrew T. Baxter, issued pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Rule 72.3(c) of the Local Rules of Practice for this Court, recommending that Defendant's decision be affirmed, and that Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed. (Dkt. No. 16.) For the reasons set forth below, the Report-Recommendation is adopted.


A. Procedural History

Because neither party has objected to Part I of Magistrate Judge Baxter's Report-Recommendation, setting forth the procedural background of this action, the Court adopts that part's description in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review of the parties. (See generally Dkt. No. 16, at Part I [Report-Rec].)

On September 18, 2007, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") under the Social Security Act alleging a disability as of May 1, 2000, which left her unable to work.*fn1 (See Administrative Transcript ["T."] at 147-161.)*fn2 After Plaintiff's application was subsequently denied by the Social Security Administration, Plaintiff appealed; and on January 6, 2010, a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") of the Social Security Administration (T. at 650-74), and a subsequent hearing was held by the same ALJ on July 26, 2010 (T. at 26-55).

On August 19, 2012, the ALJ issued her decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled at any time from her amended onset date of November 5, 2004 until the expiration of her insured status on March 31, 2005. (T. at 7-25.) Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision to the Social Security Administration's Appeals Council; and on August 12, 2011, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of Defendant.

(T. at 1-6.) On September 19, 2011, Plaintiff commenced this action in federal court. (Dkt. No. 1.)

Generally, in her brief in support of her Complaint, Plaintiff asserts the following four arguments: (1) the Commissioner erred in finding that Plaintiff's depression and anxiety are not severe impairments (Dkt. No. 11, at Point I); (2) the Commissioner erred by failing to properly evaluate Plaintiff's credibility and complaints of disabling pain (id. at Point II); (3) the Commissioner erred in determining Plaintiff's RFC (id. at Point III); and (4) the Commissioner erred by failing to consider Plaintiff's appeal from the denial of her application for supplemental security income benefits from March 31, 2005, present (id. at Point IV).

Generally, in his brief in response to Plaintiff's brief, Defendant disagrees with each of these four arguments, and argues that the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed. (Dkt. No. 15.)

B. Magistrate Judge Baxter's Report-Recommendation

On August 31, 2012, Magistrate Judge Baxter issued a Report-Recommendation recommending that Plaintiff's case be dismissed. (Dkt. No. 16.) Generally, the Report-Recommendation was based on the following findings and conclusions: (1) the ALJ properly determined, based on substantial evidence, that Plaintiff's depression and/or anxiety had only a minimal affect on her ability to perform daily activities and that medical treatment was effective in alleviating her symptoms; (2) the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff's subjective complaints of pain were inconsistent with evidence in the record, including the testimony of an independent medical examiner, was correct in all respects; (3) because there was limited record evidence of Plaintiff's physical limitations for the period in question, the ALJ requested and properly relied upon the medical examiner's updated report and RFC evaluation in determining that Plaintiff's RFC did not limit her ability to perform her prior job; and (4) Plaintiff's fourth argument cannot succeed under the circumstances (in part because she failed to appeal, and there is no duty that the staff ensure that plaintiff perfects the appeal in a timely manner). (Id. at Parts IV and VIII.)

Neither party filed an Objection to the Report-Recommendation, and the deadline by which to do so has expired. ...

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