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Patricia E. Clayton v. Michael J. Astrue

July 7, 2011

PATRICIA E. CLAYTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF ) SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Patricia E. Clayton ("Clayton") brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the final agency decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying her application for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") pursuant to the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423(d). Before the Court is Clayton's motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, motion for remand and the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the Court grants Clayton's motion for summary judgment or remand, and denies the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment. The Court remands this matter to the ALJ for a further determination of whether Clayton had an impairment that meets or is equal to one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P., Appendix 1, as required at step three of the sequential analysis under 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 and 416.920.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On April 6, 2005, Clayton applied for DIB alleging that she became disabled on October 1, 2000 after the March 31, 1999 expiration of her DIB insured status. (R. 23, Admin. Record, at 68-73.) Subsequently, Clayton filed another DIB application on October 25, 2006 alleging that she became disabled on September 20, 1996 before her insured status expired.*fn1 (Id. at 14.) On December 21, 2006, Clayton's application was initially denied and on February 27, 2007 Clayton's application was denied upon reconsideration. (Id. at 58-61, 63-65.) On April 2, 2007, Clayton filed a timely request for a hearing and on March 26, 2009, Clayton appeared and testified before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Kenneth Stewart in Oakbrook, Illinois. (Id. at 21-52.)

At the hearing, medical expert Dr. Ashok Jilhewar, vocation expert ("VE") Cheryl Hosieth, Clayton, and Clayton's husband, Paul Clayton, testified. (Id. at 49-51.) On June 25, 2009, ALJ Stewart rendered his decision finding that Clayton was not disabled at any time on or before March 31, 1999 -- the date her DIB insured status expired -- because she could perform a significant number of jobs in the national economy. (Id. at 14-20.)

The ALJ's relevant Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, include:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on March 31, 1999.

2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of September 29, 1996, through her date last insured of March 31, 1999.

3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the severe impairment of cerebellar ataxia.

4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix I (20 C.F.R. 404.1525 and 404.1526).

5. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of sedentary work as defined by 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a).

...

10. Through the date last insured, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could have performed.

...

11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from September 20, 1996, the alleged onset date, through March 31, 1999, the date last insured.

(Id. at 16-19.)

On August 18, 2009, Clayton requested a review of the ALJ's decision with the Social Security Administration's Appeals Council and on May 13, 2010, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. (Id. at 1-4, 9-10.) Clayton filed the present action on July 16, 2010.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Clayton was born on September 25, 1966, completed high school and one year of college. She worked as a receptionist at a pediatric medical office ...


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