RIVERA v. COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
OPINION. Signed by Judge Esther Salas on 9/9/16. (cm )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 15-1088 (ES)
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
SALAS, DISTRICT JUDGE
Before the Court is an appeal filed by Plaintiff Cheryl Rivera seeking review of an
Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision denying her application for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social
Security Act (the “Act”). The Court decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b). The Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). For the reason set forth herein, the Court AFFIRMS the ALJ’s decision.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On August 28, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Title II claim for DIB and a Title XVI application for
SSI alleging disability beginning December 31, 2005. (D.E. No. 5, Administrative Record (“Tr.”)
at 266, 270). The claim was initially denied on January 8, 2010. (Id. at 110-119). Plaintiff’s
claims were denied upon reconsideration on September 28, 2010. (Id. at 126-130). On October
14, 2010, Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge. (Id. at 130137).
Plaintiff’s hearing was conducted on September 28, 2011. (Id. at 61-83). The ALJ issued
a partially favorable decision on November 4, 2011. (Id. at 88-102). Plaintiff requested an Appeals
Council review, which was granted on February 14, 2013. (Id. at 1-4). On remand, the ALJ held
a hearing on November 21, 2013, and issued an unfavorable decision on January 27, 2014. (Id. at
14-21). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request for review. (Id. at 1-4). Plaintiff
subsequently filed the instant appeal.
Plaintiff filed a memorandum of law on October 14, 2015. (D.E. No. 8, Plaintiff’s
Memorandum of Law (“Pl. Mov. Br.”)). Defendant filed an opposition brief on November 25,
2015. (D.E. No. 9, Defendant’s Brief Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 9.1 (“Def. Opp. Br.”)). The
case is ripe for determination.
Standard of Awarding Benefits
To receive DIB or SSI under Titles II and XVI, a plaintiff must show that she is disabled
within the definition of the Act. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 423, 1382. In applying for DIB, claimants must
also satisfy the insured status requirements enumerated in 42 U.S.C. § 423(c). Those who seek
SSI must fall within the income and resource limits set forth in 42 U.S.C. §§ 1382a and 1382b.
Disability is defined as the 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)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The individual’s physical or mental
impairment(s) must be “of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but
cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(a),
The Social Security Act has established a five-step sequential evaluation process to
determine whether a plaintiff is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. If the determination at a particular
step is dispositive of whether the plaintiff is or is not disabled, the inquiry ends. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4). The burden rests on the plaintiff to prove steps one through four. See Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987). At step five, the burden shifts to the government. Id.
At step one, the plaintiff must demonstrate that she is not engaging in any substantial
gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(i). Substantial gainful activity is defined as significant
physical or mental activities that are usually done for pay or profit. 20 C.F.R.
If an individual engages in substantial gainful activity, she is not disabled under the
regulation, regardless of the severity of her impairment or other factors such as age, education, and
work experience. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(b). If the plaintiff demonstrates she is not engaging in
substantial gainful activity, the analysis proceeds to the second step.
At step two, the plaintiff must demonstrate that her medically determinable impairment or
the combination of his impairments is “severe.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(ii). A “severe”
impairment significantly limits a plaintiff’s physical or mental ability to perform basic work
activities. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(c). Slight abnormalities or minimal effects on an individual’s
ability to work do not satisfy this threshold. See Leonardo v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 10-1498,
2010 WL 4747173, at *4 (D.N.J. Nov. 16, 2010).
At step three, the ALJ must assess the medical evidence and determine whether the
plaintiff’s impairments meet or equal an impairment listed in the Social Security Regulations’
“Listings of Impairments” in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
See 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a)(4)(iii). The ALJ must “fully develop the record and explain his findings at step
three.” Burnett v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 220 F.3d 112, 120 (3d Cir. 2000).
If a plaintiff is not found to be disabled at step three, the analysis continues to step four in
which the ALJ determines whether the plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform her past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iv). If the plaintiff lacks the RFC to
perform any work she has done in the past, the analysis proceeds.
In the final step, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that there is a significant
amount of other work in the national economy that the plaintiff can perform based on her RFC and
vocational factors. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(v).
Standard of Review
The Court must affirm the Commissioner’s decision if it is “supported by substantial
evidence.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3); Stunkard v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 841
F.2d 57, 59 (3d Cir. 1988); Doak v. Heckler, 790 F.2d 26, 28 (3d Cir. 1986). Substantial evidence
is more than a “mere scintilla” of evidence and “means such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). Although substantial
evidence requires “more than a mere scintilla, it need not rise to the level of a preponderance.”
McCrea v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 370 F.3d 357, 360 (3d Cir. 2004). While failure to meet the
substantial evidence standard normally warrants remand, such error is harmless where it “would
have had no effect on the ALJ’s decision.” Perkins v. Barnhart, 79 F. App’x 512, 515 (3d Cir.
The Court is bound by the ALJ’s findings that are supported by substantial evidence “even
if it would have decided the factual inquiry differently.” Hartranft v. Apfel, 181 F.3d 358, 360
(3d Cir. 1999). Thus, this Court is limited in its review because it cannot “weigh the evidence or
substitute its conclusions for those of the fact-finder.” Williams v. Sullivan, 970 F.2d 1178, 1182
(3rd Cir. 1992).
ALJ Leonard Olarsch’s Decision
ALJ Leonard Olarsch held a hearing on remand from the Appeals Council. (Tr. at 14).
Following the hearing, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act. (Id. at
21). At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act and that Plaintiff had not engaged in any substantial gainful activity since the
alleged onset date of disability. (Id. at 16). At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff’s
fibromyalgia and affective disorder were severe impairments under the Act. (Id. at 16).
At step three, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff “did not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of the listed impairments in 20 CFR
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.” (Id. at 17). At step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had
the RFC “to perform light work.” (Id. at 18). According to the ALJ, Plaintiff could “occasionally
lift and/or carry 20 pounds; 10 pounds frequently, stand and/or walk about 6 hours in an 8 hour
work-day; sit about 6 hours in an 8 hour work-day . . . [and] perform frequent postural maneuvers.”
(Id.). But, the ALJ found that Plaintiff must avoid concentrated exposure to fumes, odors, dust,
and gases. (Id.). The ALJ also limited Plaintiff to “simple routine, repetitive unskilled tasks.”
(Id.). Based on this RFC assessment, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was unable to perform her
past relevant work as a home health aide. (Id. at 20).
At step five, the ALJ considered Plaintiff’s age, education, work experience, and RFC and
determined that there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that
Plaintiff could perform. (Id.). Given these factors, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has not been
disable from the alleged onset date of December 31, 2005 through the date of the decision. (Id. at
On appeal, Plaintiff argues that ALJ Olarsch’s decision contains legal error and is not
supported by substantial evidence. In particular, Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ: (1) improperly
evaluated the medical evidence, (Pl. Mov. Br. at 10); (2) failed to properly assess Plaintiff’s RFC,
(id. at 17); and (3) did not provide the vocational expert with a complete hypothetical, (id. at 18).
The Court addresses each argument in turn.
Evaluation of Medical Evidence
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ improperly considered the medical evidence when
determining whether Plaintiff’s severe impairments met or equaled a listed impairment. (Id. at 1011). Specifically, Plaintiff contends that the ALJ: (1) erred in concluding that Plaintiff only had
moderate limitations with regard to her mental impairments; (2) failed to consider Plaintiff’s
fibromyalgia under Social Security Ruling (“SSR”) 12-2p; and (3) improperly found Plaintiff not
credible. (Id. at 10-17).
With respect to her mental impairments, the ALJ concluded that the severity of Plaintiff’s
affective disorder did not meet or medically equal the criteria for listing 12.04. (Tr. at 17). In
order to satisfy the criteria for listing 12.04, the alleged mental impairment must result in at least
two of the following: (1) “marked restriction of activities of daily living;” (2) “marked difficulties
in maintaining social functioning;” (3) “marked difficulties in maintaining concentration,
persistence, or pace;” or (4) “repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.”
20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1, § 12.04B. “Marked” means “more than moderate but less
than extreme.” Id.
With respect to activities of daily living, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had moderate
restrictions because “sometimes she cannot move her ‘whole body,’ . . . does not cook, . . . [but]
can shop for food and clothes, . . . [and] assists with getting her granddaughter ready for school.”
(Tr. at 18). As to social functioning, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had moderate difficulties
because she “does spend time with others . . . [and] travels alone.” (Id.). With regard to
concentration, persistence, or pace, the ALJ again concluded that Plaintiff had moderate
difficulties given that she can “pay attention for about 1 hour[,] . . . follow instructions very well[,]
. . . gets along with authority figures[,] . . . [but] does not handle stress well.” (Id.). The ALJ also
concluded that the claimant did not experience episodes of decompensation that have been
extended in duration. (Id.).
The Court concludes that the ALJ’s determination was supported by substantial evidence.
Indeed, Plaintiff cites to medical consultant Dr. Ira Gash’s opinion that she is markedly limited in
her ability to travel to unfamiliar places or use public transportation. (Id. at 461). Although this
may be true, Plaintiff is still able to travel alone, and does perform many other daily living
activities—such as shopping and assisting with childcare. (Id. at 303). Moreover, Dr. Gash
ultimately opined that Plaintiff suffered from moderate restrictions and difficulties with respect to
her daily living activities, social functioning, and concentration, persistence, or pace. (Id. at 456).
Plaintiff also argues that she has experienced repeated episodes of decompensation that
have lasted for many years. (Pl. Mov. Br. at 11). However, Plaintiff fails to meet her burden at
step two by providing medical evidence in support of her position that she has experienced
episodes of decompensation.
Next, Plaintiff contends that the ALJ failed to evaluate fibromyalgia under SSR 12-2p. (Pl.
Mov. Br. at 11). But, SSR 12-2p has no bearing on the ALJ’s decision in the instant case. The
purpose of SSR 12-2p is to “provide guidance on how . . . [to] develop evidence to establish that
a person has a medically determinable impairment of fibromyalgia, and how . . . [to] evaluate
fibromyalgia in disability claims and continuing disability reviews.” Evaluation of Fibromyalgia,
SSR 12-2p 2012 WL 3104869 (S.S.A. July 25, 2012). Here, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff’s
fibromyalgia was a severe impairment—a decision in Plaintiff’s favor. (Tr. at 16). Simply put,
there was no need for “guidance on how . . . [to] develop evidence to establish that a person has a
medically determinable impairment of fibromyalgia” because the ALJ did in fact conclude that
Plaintiff’s fibromyalgia was a severe impairment. See Accomando v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No.
13-1391, 2014 WL 6389060, at *7 (D.N.J. Nov. 14, 2014) (“The new Social Security Ruling, SSR
12–2P does not affect ALJ Krappa’s ruling because ALJ Krappa found Plaintiff’s Fibromyalgia to
be a severe impairment.”). Any error in failing to reference SSR 12-2p is harmless because the
ALJ would have reached the same conclusion regarding the severity of Plaintiff’s fibromyalgia.
Moreover, to the extent that Plaintiff argues that the ALJ’s failure to consider SSR 12-2p
affected the remainder of his analysis, the Court concludes that this argument is without merit.
Indeed, the ALJ considered Plaintiff’s impairments and concluded that Plaintiff’s “medically
determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to cause the alleged symptoms.” (Tr. at
19). Nevertheless, based on a review of the medical evidence in the record, the ALJ found
Plaintiff’s statements concerning the intensity, persistence, and limiting of effects of the alleged
symptoms not to be credible. (Id.). As a result, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had the RFC to
perform light work given the medical evidence in the record. (Tr. at 18-19). Accordingly, the
ALJ’s failure to reference SSR 12-2p does not create a basis to remand because the RFC
determination was based on a fulsome review of the medical evidence in the record. See
Accomando, 2014 WL 6389060, at *7 (“Thus, [SSR 12-2p] is irrelevant because the severity of
Plaintiff’s Fibromyalgia was not discounted in ALJ Krappa’s ruling. Instead, ALJ Krappa relied
on Dr. Fechner’s testimony that Plaintiff, despite her Fibromyalgia and other impairments, could
perform certain sedentary work.”).
Next, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ improperly evaluated Plaintiff’s credibility concerning
pain. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that the ALJ applied the wrong legal standard regarding pain,
and that the ALJ’s finding must be based on something more than mere speculation. (Pl. Mov. Br.
Assessing a claimant’s symptoms involves a two-step process. First, the ALJ must
determine whether there is a “medically determinable impairment that could reasonably be
expected to produce [a claimant’s] symptoms.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529(b). Second, the ALJ must
evaluate the “the intensity and persistence of  symptoms, such as pain, and determin[e] the extent
to which [a claimant’s] symptoms limit [her] capacity for work.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529(c). When
subjective complaints are unsupported by objective medical evidence, the ALJ must make a
credibility determination based upon the entire record. Conn v. Astrue, 852 F. Supp. 2d 517, 527
(D. Del. 2012). An ALJ’s credibility determination is afforded deference. See Diaz v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 577 F.3d 500, 506 (3d Cir. 2009) (“In determining whether there is substantial evidence
to support an administrative law judge’s decision, we owe deference to his evaluation of the
evidence [and] assessment of the credibility of witnesses . . . .”).
Under this deferential standard, the Court concludes that substantial evidence supports the
ALJ’s determination. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff’s “medically determinable impairments
could reasonably be expected to cause the alleged symptoms.” (Tr. at 19). But, the ALJ went on
to state that Plaintiff’s “statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of
these symptoms are not entirely credible . . . .” (Id.). Specifically, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff’s “allegations are not supported by substantial disabling objective findings in the medical
evidence of the record.” (Id.). According to the ALJ, Plaintiff’s Function Report was inconsistent
with her testimony. (Id.). Plaintiff testified that she had a lot of pain and “would not be able to do
her past relevant work or any work because she would be absent at least two days per week.” (Id.).
However, the ALJ noted that Plaintiff is able to take care of her granddaughter and pets, travels
alone, and does not take strong narcotics for pain. (Id.). Indeed, Dr. Gash indicated that Plaintiff
was marked in her ability to travel to new places. (Id. at 461). But again, this is inconsistent with
Plaintiff’s own testimony that she travels alone. (Id. at 302-303).
Moreover, to make this credibility determination, the ALJ relied on the testimony of
medical expert Dr. Galst, who opined that “there was insufficient data as to claimant’s physical
state . . . except for claimant’s complaints.” (Id. at 19). Indeed, the ALJ pointed to reports—which
Dr. Galst reviewed—indicating that Plaintiff’s thyroid function was normal with medication, that
her asthma was mild, and that she could walk up to half a mile. (Id.). Accordingly, the Court
concludes that substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s credibility determination.
Residual Functional Capacity Determination
Next, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in his RFC determination. In particular, Plaintiff
contends that the ALJ failed to consider all of the medical evidence in the record and justify his
findings that Plaintiff could perform light work. (Pl. Mov. Br. at 17). According to Plaintiff, her
treating physician limited her to lifting five pounds but not more than ten pounds, standing or
walking for less than two hours per day, sitting for one half-hour a day due to pain, and pushing
and pulling at a limited capacity. (Id. at 18).
An RFC analysis “must first identify the individual’s functional limitations and restrictions
and assess his or her work-related abilities on a function-by-function basis.” Santiago v. Barnhart,
367 F. Supp. 2d 728, 733 (E.D. Pa. 2005). “In making a residual functional capacity determination,
the ALJ must consider all evidence before him.” Burnett, 220 F.3d at 121 (citing Plummer v.
Apfel, 186 F.3d 422, 429 (3d Cir. 1999)); Doak v. Heckler, 790 F.2d 26, 29 (3d Cir. 1986)).
“Although the ALJ may weigh the credibility of the evidence, he must give some indication of the
evidence which he rejects and his reason(s) for discounting such evidence.” Burnett, 220 F.3d at
121. “In the absence of such an indication, the reviewing court cannot tell if significant probative
evidence was not credited or simply ignored.” Id.
Here, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the RFC to perform light work. (Tr. at 18). In
particular, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff could
occasionally lift and/or carry 20 pounds; 10 pounds frequently, stand and/or walk
about 6 hours in an 8 hour work-day; sit about 6 hours in an 8 hour work-day. . . .
[P]erform frequent postural maneuvers; must avoid concentrated exposure to
fumes, odors, dusts, and gases; limited to simple routine, repetitive unskilled tasks.
The Court concludes that this RFC determination is supported by substantial evidence.
Medical expert Dr. Galst reviewed Exhibits 1F through 17F on two occasions and concluded that,
“based on the . . . lack of objective data, . . . there is no evidence that she was . . . not capable of
doing light work.” (Id. at 40). Furthermore, Dr. Galst opined that the only evidence prohibiting
Plaintiff from performing medium work was her own subjective complaints. (Id. at 41).
In particular, Dr. Galst addressed Dr. Frank Barbera’s reports—Plaintiff’s treating
physician—and noted that Dr. Barbera concludes, without sufficient foundation, that Plaintiff is
less than sedentary. (Id. at 38-39). Notably, Dr. Barbera did not find that Plaintiff was completely
disabled. Rather, Dr. Barbera opined that Plaintiff was limited to lifting five pounds, but not more
than ten, limited to standing or walking for less than two hours per day, and limited to sitting for
not more than thirty minutes a day. (Id. at 471-473). However, Dr. Galst highlighted that
Plaintiff’s earliest visits to Dr. Barbera only date back to 2007, which is after the alleged onset
date of December 31, 2005. (Id. at 38). Moreover, Dr. Galst indicated that there is no objective
information as to how Dr. Barbera diagnosed Plaintiff with fibromyalgia. (Id.).
Additionally, the ALJ afforded great weight to state agency consultant Dr. A. Cirillo, who
opined that Plaintiff could perform light work. (See id. at 20, 408-415). In support of this
conclusion, Dr. Cirillo stated that “[t]here were no . . . findings noted . . . in the spine nor
extremities[;] [t]here were no motor nor sensory deficits noted.” (Id. at 409).
Moreover, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff’s allegations were unsupported by the medical
evidence in the record. As stated earlier, Plaintiff’s Function Report contradicted her testimony at
the hearing. Plaintiff indicated she was in a lot of pain and would be absent from work at least
two days a week. (Id. at 19). However, her Function Report indicated that she helps care for her
granddaughter and pets, travels alone, shops for clothes and food, and does not take strong
narcotics for her pain. (Id. at 19, 303-305). Plaintiff also indicated that she could lift up to thirty
pounds and walk about three blocks, (id. at 305), which supports the ALJ’s light work RFC
Accordingly, the Court concludes that the ALJ’s RFC determination was supported by
Hypothetical Posed to Vocational Expert
Last, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred as a matter of law by failing to provide the
vocational expert (“VE”) with a complete hypothetical.
(Pl. Mov. Br. at 18). In particular,
Plaintiff claims that the ALJ “failed to include all of plaintiff’s mental impairments but only limited
the hypothetical individual to simple, routine, repetitive work.” (Id. at 19 (internal quotation marks
At step five, the ALJ must determine if the claimant can perform any other work that exists
in significant numbers in the nation’s economy. Johnson v. Astrue, No. 09-1073, 2010 WL
2891496, at *11 (W.D. Pa. July 21, 2010). In making this determination, the ALJ may rely on the
expert testimony of a VE. Id. “A vocational expert or specialist may offer expert testimony in
response to a hypothetical question about whether a person with the physical and mental
limitations imposed by the claimant’s medical impairment(s) can meet the demands of the
claimant’s previous work.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1560(b)(2). A “hypothetical question must reflect all
of a claimant’s impairments that are supported by the record; otherwise the question is deficient
and the expert's answer to it cannot be considered substantial evidence.” Ramirez v. Barnhart, 372
F.3d 546, 552 (3d Cir. 2004). Nevertheless, the ALJ need not include every alleged impairment.
Id. at 554. Rather, the ALJ need only include those impairments that have been determined to
affect Plaintiff’s ability to work. Covone v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 142 F. App’x 585, 587 (3d Cir.
2005) (citing Burns v. Barnhart, 312 F.3d 113, 123 (3d Cir. 2002)) (“Burns requires that a
hypothetical include all of the claimant’s credibly established limitations, but does not require that
the vocational expert be apprised of limitations which have been determined not to affect the
Here, the Court concludes that the hypothetical posed to the VE adequately represented all
of Plaintiff’s impairments. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had the RFC to perform light work,
but must be limited to “simple routine, repetitive unskilled tasks.” (Tr. at 18). In reaching this
determination, the ALJ considered Plaintiff’s impairments. (Id.). Indeed, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff’s affective disorder was severe, (id. at 16), but ultimately concluded that Plaintiff had
only moderate restrictions in daily living, moderate difficulties in social functioning, moderate
difficulties in concentration, persistence or pace, and that she did not experience episodes of
decompensation that have been extended in duration, (id. at 18). The ALJ consulted vocational
expert Rocco Meola and asked him to assume a hypothetical individual with Plaintiff’s education,
training, and work experience, that is “limited to the full range of light work, . . . [and] simple,
routine, repetitive unskilled tasks,” with “frequent postural maneuvers,” who must avoid
“concentrated exposure to fumes, odors, dust and gasses.” (Id. at 56-57). Meola opined that this
hypothetical person could not perform Plaintiff’s past relevant work, (id. at 57), but that jobs
existed in the national economy that this person could perform, (id.).
The ALJ’s hypothetical accounted for Plaintiff’s moderate restrictions and limitations by
limiting the hypothetical individual to “simple, routine, repetitive unskilled tasks” and requiring
that he or she to avoid “fumes, odors, dust and gasses.” (Id. at 56-57). Although Plaintiff’s
impairments were severe, they had limited effect on her ability to work, as evidenced by the
moderate restrictions and limitations. Accordingly, the Court concludes that the ALJ’s
hypothetical was accurate. See McDonald v. Astrue, 293 F. App’x 941, 946 (3d Cir. 2008) (“For
example, in line with her finding that McDonald only had moderate limitations with his ability to
maintain concentration, persistence and pace, the ALJ included in her hypothetical that the
individual be limited to simple, routine tasks and that he avoid noise extremes and bright or sudden
light changes.” (internal quotation marks omitted)).
For the foregoing reasons, the Court affirms the ALJ’s opinion. An appropriate Order
accompanies this Opinion.
Esther Salas, U.S.D.J.
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