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Pierce v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division

December 1, 2014

SANDRA FAYE PIERCE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant

For Sandra Faye Pierce, Plaintiff: Charles L. Wilkinson, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Wilkinson & Magruder, LLP, Augusta, GA.

For Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Secuirty, Defendant: Shannon Heath Statkus, U.S. Attorney's Office - AUG, Augusta, GA.

Social Security Administration, Notice, Pro se.

MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

BRIAN K. EPPS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

Sandra Faye Pierce (" Plaintiff") appeals the decision of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security (the " Commissioner") denying her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (" DIB") and Supplemental Security Income (" SSI") under the Social Security Act. Upon consideration of the briefs submitted by both parties, the record evidence, and the relevant statutory and case law, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS that the Commissioner's final decision be AFFIRMED, that this civil action be CLOSED, and that a final judgment be ENTERED in favor of the Commissioner.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on January 16, 2009, alleging a disability onset date of October 27, 2004. Tr. (" R"), 50, 98-99, 333-36. The Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's applications initially, R. 73-76, and on reconsideration, R. 81-84, 337-40. Plaintiff requested a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ"), R. 85, and the ALJ held a hearing on January 10, 2012. R. 347-74. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, as well as from Robert E. Ravin, Jr., a Vocational Expert (" VE"). R. 347-74.

Plaintiff previously applied for DIB and SSI, which resulted in a partially favorable decision by ALJ Richard Vogel on October 2, 2008. R. 18. ALJ Vogel determined that claimant was disabled from October 7, 2004 through November 13, 2006, but beginning on November 14, 2006, medical improvement enabled Plaintiff to perform substantial gainful activity from November 14, 2006 through, October 2, 2008, the date of his decision. Id. Because Plaintiff did not request a review of ALJ Vogel's October 2008 decision, the current AJL found the earliest possible onset of Plaintiff's disability for the present applications was October 3, 2008. R. 18, 33-49.

On February 14, 2012, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. R. 15-32. Applying the five-step sequential process required by 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520 and 416.920, the ALJ found:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 3, 2008, the date of the current relevant period of alleged disability (20 C.F.R. § § 404.1571 et seq . & 416.971 et seq .).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative joint disease, affective and mood disorders, and obesity (20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520(c) & 416.920(c)).
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. § § 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. The claimant has the residual functional capacity (" RFC") to perform light work[1] as defined in 20 C.F.R. § § 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she is limited to no more than occasional balancing, and is precluded from climbing with respect to ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. She could understand, recall, and carry out all commands related to simple and detailed tasks despite variable concentration, pace, and mood; she would respond best to a reduced level of ongoing direct work with the general public, but could relate appropriately to supervisors and coworkers; she could respond appropriately to normal but not fast paced change in the work setting; she could be aware of normal hazards and take appropriate precautions; she could travel in unfamiliar places or use public transportation; and she could set realistic ...

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