PEREZ v. COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
OPINION. Signed by Judge Claire C. Cecchi on 6/27/16. (DD, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No.: 2:14-cv-5551 (CCC)
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
CECCHI, District Judge.
Before the Court is Claimant Rosemary Perez’s appeal (“Claimant”) seeking review of a
final determination by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”)
denying her application for supplemental security income (“SSI”) under
Social Security Act (“SSA”).
§ 1614(a)(3)(A) of the
for the reasons set forth below, this Court affirms the
Claimant was born on January 15, 1988 and, in 1993, was diagnosed with kidney vascular
anomaly. Tr.1 at 15, 60. Claimant received a kidney transplant from her brother in 2000. Id. at
15, 439, 441, 499. Following the transplant, Claimant developed diabetes, which was managed
initially with oral medication and later with insulin. Id. at 15, 499-500.
Claimant complains of anxiety and panic attacks.
at 499. She associates her anxiety
“Tr” refers to the certified record of the administrative proceedings. ECF No. 6.
with travelling long distances and going on airplanes.
at 99, 499. In describing its severity,
Claimant stated her daily anxiety was at a level three (with one being the lowest and ten being the
at 499. She described her panic attacks as occurring sporadically. Id. Psychiatric
Social Worker Jacqueline Razzano diagnosed Claimant with having a panic disorder without
After graduating from high school in 2007, Claimant attended Berkeley College for one
year, studying fashion. j at 100-01, 121-22, 581, 586, 592. Following her time at Berkeley,
Claimant attended Middlesex County College part-time, studying photography. Id. at 442, 499,
There are three Administrative Law Judge (“AU”) decisions at issue in this appeal: (1) the
July 19,2010 decision of AU Joel H. Friedman denying Claimant’s application for child disability
benefits; (2) the July 22, 2013 decision of AU
Leonard Olarsch declining to reopen ALl
Friedman’s July 19, 2010 decision; and (3) the January 29, 2014 decision of AU Leonard Olarsch
denying Claimant’s application for $SI.
Claimant received SSI benefits as a child. Id. at 60. As required by law, eligibility for
benefits was re-determined under the rules for determining disability in adults when Claimant
reached age eighteen.
The agency determined Claimant was no longer disabled as of May 1,
2008 and ceased benefits. Id. The State agency disability hearing officer upheld the cessation of
benefits after a disability hearing on June 12, 2009. Id.
On June 12, 2008, Claimant filed an application for child disability benefits,2 alleging
disability beginning January 1, 1994. jç The claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration
on October 29, 2009. Id. On November 20, 2009, Claimant filed a written request for a hearing.
RI. Claimant did not appear at the hearing, stipulating to the AU deciding the case in her absence.
Id. On July 19, 2010, in the first decision at issue in this case, AU Friedman denied Claimant’s
June 12, 2008 application for child disability benefits, concluding Claimant was not disabled under
§ 223(d) and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the SSA.
at 67. Claimant did not request Appeals Council
review of AU Friedman’s decision.
On June 24, 2010, Claimant filed another application for SSI, alleging disability beginning
January 15, 2008. Id. at 12. The claim was denied initially on October 19, 2010, and upon
reconsideration on July 5, 2011. Id. On June 19, 2013, Claimant testified via telephone at a
hearing before AU Olarsch, after she allegedly had a panic attack causing her to miss her
previously scheduled May 16, 2013 hearing.
Tanya M. Edghill, a vocational expert (“yE”),
appeared and testified at the hearing. Id. Claimant was represented by James Langton, an attorney.
RI. Mr. Uangton appeared on both scheduled dates—May 16, 2013 and June 19, 2013. Id.
On both the initial May 16, 2013 date and at the June 19, 2013 hearing, Mr. Langton argued
AU Friedman’s July 19, 2010 decision should be reopened based on new and material evidence.
Id. Specifically, Mr. Uangton argued that although that decision was dated in 2010, AU Friedman
Social Security regulations treat disabled adult children as one category of children
entitled to benefits on the earnings record of a wage earner parent. For an adult child to be
entitled to child disability benefits under a parent’s Social Security earnings record, the parent
must be deceased or receiving disability or retirement benefits and the adult child must be
unmarried, age 18 or older, and have a disability that commenced prior to age twenty-two. 20
C.F.R. § 404.350.
did not utilize any evidence after 2008. Brief in Support of Plaintiff Rosemary Perez (“P1. Br.”),
ECF No. 10 at 3. Mr. Langton argued because Claimant was unrepresented and did not attend the
hearing, AU Friedman was required to independently obtain evidence from 2009 and 2010, which
showed multiple instances where Claimant was hospitalized for panic attacks.
at 3-5. After
the hearing, Mr. Langton submitted a brief in support of the request to reopen AU Friedman’s
decision. Tr. at 12.
On July 22, 2013, in the second decision at issue in this case, AU Olarsch issued an order
of dismissal, denying Claimant’s request to reopen ALl friedman’s July 19, 2010 decision,
pursuant to the doctrine of administrative res judicata.
at 40 (“The doctrine of res judicata
applies when the Social Security Administration has made a previous determination or decision
regarding the same facts and on the same issue or issues and the determination or decision has
been final by either administrative or judicial action. The prior ALl has already determined that
the claimant did not suffer from a severe mental impairment before the age of 22. Even with the
new evidence, I do not find any reason to disturb that determination.” (internal citations omitted)).
On January 29, 2014, in the third decision at issue in this case, AU Olarsch denied
Claimant’s June 24, 2010 application for SSI, concluding Claimant was not disabled under
§ 1614(a)(3)(A) of the SSA.
at 23. Claimant requested review of both of AU Olarsch’s
decisions and the Appeals Council denied the requests on July 2, 2014. Id. at 1-7, 386-89. The
Appeals Council found (1) AU Olarsch’s January 29, 2014 decision was the final decision of the
Commissioner as to Claimant’s application for SSI for the period from July 1, 2010 to January 29,
2014; and (2) AU Friedman’s July 19, 2010 decision, which AU Olarsch declined to reopen,
controlled Claimant’s previous claim for child disability benefits.
at 1. On September 5, 2014,
Claimant instituted this action. ECF No. 1.
Standard of Review
This Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner’s decision under 42 U.s.c.
§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). The court is not “permitted to re-weigh the evidence or impose [its]
own factual determinations,” but must give deference to the administrative findings. Chandler v.
Comm’r Soc. Sec., 667 F.3d 356, 359 (3d Cir. 2011); see also 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Nevertheless,
the Court must “scrutinize the record as a whole to determine whether the conclusions reached are
rational” and supported by substantial evidence. Gober v. Matthews, 574 F.2d 772, 776 (3d Cir.
1978) (citations omitted). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla, and is “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Chandler, 667
F.3d at 359 (citing Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). If the factual record is
adequately developed, substantial evidence “may be ‘something less than the weight of the
evidence, and the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not
prevent an administrative agency’s finding from being supported by substantial evidence.”
Daniels v. Astrue, No. 4:O$-CV-1676, 2009 WL 1011587, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 15, 2009) (quoting
Consolo v. Fed. Mar. Comm’n, 383 U.S. 607, 620 (1966)). In other words, under this deferential
standard of review, the Court may not set aside the AU’s decision merely because it would have
come to a different conclusion. Cruz v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 244 F. App’x 475, 479 (3d Cir.
2007) (citing Hartranft v. Apfel, 181 f.3d 358, 360 (3d Cir. 1999)).
Pursuant to the SSA, to be eligible for benefits a claimant must show she is disabled by
demonstrating an inability to “engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has
lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months.” 42 U.s.c.
§ 423(d)(l)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). Taking into account the claimant’s age, education, and work
experience, disability will be evaluated by the claimant’s ability to engage in her previous work or
any other form of substantial gainful activity existing in the national economy.
§ 423(d)(2)(A), 13$2c(a)(3)(B). A person is disabled for these purposes only if her physical or
mental impairments are “of such severity that [s]he is not only unable to do [her] previous work,
but cannot, considering [her] age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy.
Decisions regarding disability will be made individually and will be “based on evidence
adduced at a hearing.” Sykes v. Apfel, 22$ F.3d 259, 262 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Heckler v.
Campbell, 461 U.S. 458, 467 (1983)). Congress has established the type of evidence necessary to
prove the existence of a disabling impairment by defining a physical or mental impairment as “an
impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 423(d)(3), 1382(a)(3)(D).
Sequential Evaluation Process
The SSA follows a five-step, sequential evaluation to determine whether a claimant is
disabled within the meaning of the statute. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520, 416.920. First, the AU must
determine whether the claimant is currently engaged in gainful activity. Sykes, 22$ F.3d at 262.
Second, if she is not, the ALl determines whether the claimant has an impairment that limits her
ability to work.
Third, if she has such an impairment, the AU considers the medical evidence
to determine whether the impairment is listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the
“Listings”). If it is, this results in a presumption of disability. Id. If the impairment is not in the
Listings, the ALl must determine how much residual functional capacity (“RFC”) the applicant
retains in spite of her impairment.
Id. at 263.
Fourth, the AU must consider whether the
claimant’s RFC is enough to perform her past relevant work. Id. Fifth, if her RFC is not enough,
the AU must determine whether there is other work in the national economy the claimant can
The evaluation continues through each step unless it is determined at any point that the
claimant is or is not disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). The claimant bears the
burden of proof at steps one, two, and four, upon which the burden shifts to the Commissioner at
step five. Sykes, 22$ F.3d at 263. Neither party bears the burden at step three.
at 263 n.2.
Claimant makes the following arguments in support of her contention that ALl Olarsch’s
decision should be reversed:
(1) AU Olarsch’s July 22, 2013 order of dismissal declining
Claimant’s request to reopen ALl friedman’s July 19, 2010 decision was an abuse of discretion;
and (2) AU Olarsch’s January 29, 2014 decision denying Claimant’s application for SSI was not
supported by substantial evidence. The Court will address each argument in turn.
AU Olarsch’s July 22, 2013 Order of Dismissal Declining to Reopen
AU Friedman’s Prior Decision
In connection with her June 24, 2010 application for $51, Claimant requested AU Olarsch
reopen AU Friedman’s July 19, 2010 decision denying Claimant’s application for child disability
benefits on the basis of new and material evidence. On July 22, 2013, AU Olarsch issued an order
of dismissal, declining to reopen AU
Friedman’s decision, pursuant to the doctrine of
administrative res ludicata. Claimant now argues AU Olarsch abused his discretion by declining
to reopen AU Friedman’s prior decision.
Claimant argues AU Olarsch should have granted her request to reopen ALl Friedman’s
prior decision because (1) AU Friedman disregarded the enhanced duty he owed Claimant as an
unrepresented individual; and (2) AU Olarsch was presented with new and material evidence not
before AU Friedman.
P1. Br. at 3-7. This Court does not have jurisdiction to review AU
Olarsch’s July 22, 2013 order of dismissal.
As a general matter, federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to review dismissals
based on administrative res ludicata. See Califano v. Sanders, 430 U.S. 99, 108-09 (1977) (finding
that 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) “clearly limits judicial review to a particular type of agency action, a ‘final
decision of the [Commissioner] made after a hearing”).
Under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), “[a]ny
individual, after any final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security made after a hearing to
which he was a party.
may obtain a review of such decision by a civil action commenced within
sixty days after the mailing to him of notice of such decision.
§ 405(g) (emphasis added).
Thus, judicial review is limited to a “final decision of the [Commissioner] made after a hearing.”
Califano, 430 U.S. at 108 (quoting 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g)). The authority to determine what
constitutes a “final decision” rests with the Commissioner “to flesh out by regulation.” Weinberger
v. Salfi, 422 U.S. 749, 766 (1975).
Because AU Olarsch dismissed Claimant’s request to reopen AU Friedman’s decision
based on administrative res judicata, ALl Olarsch never issued a judicially reviewable “final
decision.” The regulations provide that an AU may dismiss a request for a hearing, and therefore
decline to issue a “final decision,” based on the doctrine of administrative res judicata. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.957(c)(1) (“The doctrine of res judicata applies in that we have made a previous
determination or decision under this subpart about your rights on the same facts and on the same
issue or issues, and this previous determination or decision has become final by either
administrative or judicial action.”).
AU Friedman’s July 19, 2010 decision became administratively final after the time to seek
Appeals Council review expired.
Because Claimant’s request to reopen AU
administratively final decision involved the same facts and issues as her earlier application for
child disability benefits, AU Olarsch determined the doctrine of administrative res judicata
applied. AU Olarsch examined the evidence submitted by Claimant in connection with her
request to reopen as well as AU Friedman’s prior decision, and determined there was no new or
material evidence demonstrating good cause to reopen AU Friedman’s prior decision.
Claimant requested Appeals Council review of AU Olarsch’s order of dismissal. The
Appeals Council denied Claimant’s request on July 2, 2014, Tr. 1-7, thereby making ALl
Olarsch’s July 22, 2013 order of dismissal the Commissioner’s determination on Claimant’s
request to reopen AU Friedman’s July 19, 2010 decision.
See 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.959 (“The
dismissal of a request for a hearing is binding, unless it is vacated by an administrative law judge
or the Appeals Council.”); see also Melloy v. Shalala, Civ. A. No. 94-1375, 1994 WL 689963, at
*4 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 7, 1994) (“Califano established the proposition that there is no federal court
jurisdiction to review a refusal to reopen a disability claim.” (citing Califano, 430 U.S. at 99)).
Thus, this Court lacks subject mailer jurisdiction to review AU Olarsch’s order of
dismissal declining to reopen AU Friedman’s decision because that order is not a judicially
reviewable “final decision” within the meaning of the SSA and, therefore, does not satisfy the
requirements of 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). See Califano, 430 U.S. at 108-09.
Further, to the extent Claimant is asking this Court to review AU Friedman’s prior
decision, this Court also lacks jurisdiction. Claimant never sought Appeals Council review of AU
Friedman’s July 19, 2010 decision and, therefore, Claimant never exhausted her administrative
remedies or obtained a judicially reviewable “final decision after a hearing.”
§ 404.900(a)(5), 416.1400(a)(5). Because Claimant did not exhaust the administrative process
after AU Friedman’s July 19, 2010 decision, any claims pertaining to that decision must be
dismissed for lack ofjurisdiction.
AU Olarsch’s January 29, 2014 Decision Denying Claimant’s
Application for SSI
Claimant argues that AU Olarsch’s January 29, 2014 decision should be reversed because
neither his step three nor step five assessment is supported by substantial evidence.
Summary of AU Olarsch’s Findings
At step one, AU Olarsch found Claimant met the insured status requirements of the $SA
and has not engaged in substantial gainful work activity since the application date. Tr. at 14. At
steps two and three, AU Olarsch found Claimant’s impairments were “severe,” but not severe
enough to meet, either individually or in combination, any of the impairments listed in Appendix
1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4. Id. at 14-15. AU Olarsch determined Claimant has the following
severe impairments: “panic attacks; diabetes mellitus type II; and status/post kidney transplant
May 23, 2000,” but no impairment meets the requirements for medical listing 6.00, 9.00, or 12.06.
Id. Additionally, AU Olarsch noted while there were references to anemia in the record, there
was no vocational limitation associated with that condition and Claimant’s testimony showed that
such condition was not severe. Id. at 14.
AU Olarsch concluded Claimant has the RFC to perform light work as defined in 20
C.F.R. 404.1567(b) limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks; involving simple work-related
decisions, few workplace changes, and only occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers,
and the general public. Id. at 16. AU Olarsch added an additional limitation: Claimant will
require one absence per month and is capable of being on task for 51 minutes of an hour. Id. To
make this conclusion, AU Olarsch considered all symptoms and their consistency with the
Olarsch carefully considered the medical and other evidence and
determined Claimant has both exertional and nonexertional limitations.
at 16-21. With respect
to Claimant’s exertional limitations, AU Olarsch noted Claimant’s “activities of daily living have
not been markedly limited and she remains highly functional within familiar surroundings.” Id. at
20. AU Olarsch noted Claimant drives locally, performs light chores, and shops in stores. Id.
With respect to Claimant’s nonexertional limitations, ALl Olarsch gave careful
consideration to Claimant’s subjective complaints and concluded “[a]lthough the claimant asserts
that she cannot work, in light of the evidence, the restriction appears to be self-imposed.” Id. at
20. AU Olarsch noted that Claimant testified “she is unable to work because she cannot travel
long distances without experiencing a full-blown panic attack; and most of the time during these
attacks, she cannot control herself and they culminate in an ER visit.” Id. at 17. AU Olarsch also
noted, however, that during Claimant’s mental health treatment at Raritan Bay Mental Health
Center in March 2010 Claimant “described her daily anxiety in mild terms, rating it a three on a
ten-point scale” and the social worker she met with at that time indicated Claimant “appeared to
be appropriately involved socially with others and reported normal contact with people.” Id. at
12. In sum, AU Olarsch concluded “[a]lthough the claimant
 appears to be highly functional in
maintaining social functioning, given her nervousness and the anxiety she experiences in stressful
circumstances, I have rated her as mildly limited and included only occasional contact with
supervisors, coworkers, and the general public, since dealing with other people can be stressful,
particularly in a work environment.”
Jc1 at 21.
At step four, AU Olarsch found Claimant has no past relevant work.
Finally, at step
Olarsch considered Claimant’s age, education, work experience, and RFC, and
concluded Claimant has the ability to work in jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy. Id. at 21-22. AU Olarsch noted Claimant (1) was only 22 years old on the date she
filed her application for SSI, which is defined as a younger individual; and (2) has a high school
education and is able to communicate in English. j4 at 22. To determine the effect of Claimant’s
nonexertional limitations on her ability to work, AU Olarsch asked the VE whether jobs exist in
the national economy for an individual with Claimant’s age, education, work experience, and RFC.
Id. The VE testified Claimant would be able to perform the requirements of representative
occupations such as a labeler, mail clerk, and production assembler. Id. AU Olarsch determined
the VE’s testimony was consistent with the information contained in the Dictionary of
In sum, ALl Olarsch concluded Claimant is not disabled under
§ 1614(a)(3)(A) of the SSA. Id. at 22-23.
Claimant argues AU Olarsch’s decision should be reversed because (1) his step three
assessment is not supported by substantial evidence, and (2) his step five assessment is not
supported by substantial evidence. The Court will address each argument in turn.
Claimant argues AU Olarsch’s step three assessment is not supported by substantial
evidence because “the consideration of whether [Claimant] was presumptively disabled under
paragraph 12.06 is conducted in a cursory manner relying heavily on announcements rather than
findings.” P1. Br. at 23. The Court finds AU Olarsch’s step three assessment is supported by
The Listings considered at step three describe impairments the Commissioner considers
severe enough to prevent an individual from doing any gainful activity, regardless of age,
education, or work experience. 20 C.F.R.
§ 4 16.925(a). The Listings describe impairments
giving rise to presumptive disability, i.e., if an individual meets a listing, she is considered to be
disabled without consideration of whether she can perform work activity. Id.
§ 416.920(a)(4)(iii); Sullivan v. Zebley, 493 U.S. 521, 532 (1990) (citations omitted). To be
found presumptively disabled, a claimant must show all of the criteria for a listing have been
met. 20 C.F.R. 416.925(c)(3); Zebley, 493 U.S. at 530.
To meet listing 12.06, which deals with anxiety-related disorders, a claimant must show
the requirements in both “paragraph A” and “paragraph B” are satisfied, or the requirements in
both “paragraph A” and “paragraph C” are satisfied. AU Olarsch concluded neither the
“paragraph B” nor “paragraph C” requirements were satisfied. With respect to the “paragraph
B” criteria, AU Olarsch found (1) Claimant has no restriction in activities of daily living;
(2) Claimant has only mild difficulties in maintaining social functioning; (3) Claimant has, at
most, moderate difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; and (4) Claimant
has not experienced any episode of decompensation of extended duration. Tr. at 15. With
respect to the “paragraph C” criteria, ALl Olarsch found Claimant is able to travel independently
locally, Claimant drives around the town she lives, and Claimant attends doctor appointments on
herown. Id. at 16.
Claimant’s argument that AU Olarsch failed to discuss the “paragraph A” criteria is
without merit because to establish presumptive disability, Claimant must show all of the criteria
of listing 12.06 are met. As discussed above, to meet listing 12.06, a claimant must show the
requirements in both “paragraph A” and “paragraph B” are satisfied, or the requirements in both
“paragraph A” and “paragraph C” are satisfied. ALl Olarsch found that neither the requirements
in “paragraph B” nor “paragraph C” were met. Therefore, regardless of whether AU Olarsch
found that the “paragraph A” criteria were met, Claimant could not satisfy listing 12.06.
Additionally, Claimant’s argument that AU Olarsch’s discussion of the “paragraph B”
criteria was conclusory is without merit. In his discussion of the “paragraph B” criteria, ALl
Olarsch makes references to his step five RFC analysis. Id at 15. In that analysis, in addressing
activities of daily living, AU Olarsch noted Claimant was capable of managing her self-care,
preparing her own meals and performing other household chores, venturing out daily, attending
doctor’s appointments independently, and shopping in stores. Id. at 20. In addressing social
functioning, AU Olarsch noted Claimant socialized often, attended church weekly, shared a
strong relationship with her family, and had many friends with whom she socialized. Id. at 21.
AU Olarsch also referenced the treatment notes of Claimant’s treating psychiatrist. Id. at 15, 21.
In addressing concentration, persistence, and pace, AU Olarsch noted Claimant testified
articulately and responded well to questioning.
at 21. ALl Olarsch also referenced the
treatment notes of Claimant’s treating psychiatrist. Id. at 15, 21. In sum, the Court finds
Claimant did not prove that she met either the “paragraph B” or “paragraph C” criteria and,
therefore, the requirements of listing 12.06 were not met. ALl Olarsch’s step three assessment is
supported by substantial evidence.
Claimant also argues AU Olarsch’s step five RFC assessment is not supported by
substantial evidence. Claimant complains that AU Olarsch did not explain why Claimant would
require one absence per month and did not disclose what evidence he relied on to determine
Claimant could remain on task for 51 minutes per hour. P1. Br. at 28. Claimant also complains
the hypothetical questions posed to the VE did not reasonably convey the extent of Claimant’s
nonexertional limitations. Id. at 34. The Court finds ALl Olarsch’s step five assessment is
supported by substantial evidence.
An AU assesses a claimant’s RFC based on all relevant evidence in the record. 20
§ 416.945(a)(1); 416.946(c). Here, ALl Olarsch’s RFC assessment accounted for
Claimant’s credibly supported functional limitations. Tr. at 16-2 1. In discussing Claimant’s
functioning from a physical perspective, AU Olarsch noted Claimant acknowledged at the
hearing her kidney has been doing well since a transplant in 2000. Id. at 17. Claimant also
denied having problems with being tired, fatigued, or weak; and with standing and walking. Id.
AU Olarsch noted, however, Claimant stated could not lift more than 15 pounds with her right
hand because doing so would have an adverse effect on her kidney. Id. ALl Olarsch
disregarded the opinion evidence of the state agency physical consultants, who found that
Claimant has no exertional limitations and credited Claimant’s testimony regarding the strain on
her surgical sight with heavy lifling. Id. at 21.
In discussing her mental impairments, AU Olarsch noted Claimant’s panic attacks were
intermittent and predictable. Id. at 17. At the hearing, Claimant stated she had not had a panic
attack in several months.
at 20. Claimant also denied that interacting with people other than
her family caused panic attacks.
at 17. AU Olarsch mentioned Claimant’s ability to care for
herself independently and remain active, socialize, and maintain concentration, persistence, and
14. at 20-21. AU Olarsch gave little weight to the opinion evidence of the state agency
psychological consultants, who found that Claimant’s mental impairments were non-severe and
credited Claimant’s testimony regarding her nonexertional limitations. Id. at 21. As such, AU
Olarsch’s step five assessment is supported by substantial evidence.
Further, the hypothetical questions posed to the yE reasonably conveyed Claimant’s
14. at 127-36. Hypothetical questions posed by the AU to the vocational
expert must accurately portray a claimant’s physical and mental impairments. Podedwomy v.
Harris, 745 f.2d 210, 218 (3d Cir. 1984). The questions, however, only need to reflect
impairments that are credibly established by the record. Chrupcala v. Heckler, 829 F.2d 1269,
1276 (3d Cir. 1987). Here, AU Olarsch limited Claimant to simple, routine, repetitive tasks;
simple work-related decisions; few workplace changes; and occasional interaction with
supervisors, coworkers, and the general public. Tr. at 127. AU Olarsch’s findings with respect
to Claimant’s limitations were supported by substantial evidence. The VE testified that there
were jobs existing in the national economy for an individual with these limitations.
14. at 127-
36. As such, the hypothetical questions posed to the VE accurately portrayed Claimant’s
for the foregoing reasons, the Court will affirm AU Olarsch’s decision. An appropriate
order accompanies this Opinion.
CLAIRE C. CECCHI, U.S.D.J.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?