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Jopson v. Astrue

United States District Court, D. Delaware

October 31, 2018

EDNA JOPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment Pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (D.I. 20). The parties have briefed the issue. (D.I. 20, 21). For the reasons set out below, Plaintiffs motion is DENIED.

         This action arises from the denial of Ms. Edna Jopson's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-33. Ms. Jopson filed her application for DIB in October 2001, alleging disability due to fibromyalgia and depression since April 25, 2001. (D.I. 6 at 170-75). After a denial in 2002 (id. at 160-69), Ms. Jopson refiled her DIB claim in February 2004. (Id. at 176-78). Ms. Jopson's DIB claim was again denied. As a result, she requested and was granted a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on April 12, 2005. (Id. at 264). The ALJ ruled against Ms. Jopson. (Id. at 77). The Appeals Council denied Ms. Jopson's request for review in December 2005. (Id. at 120, 308).

         Ms. Jopson then filed an appeal to this Court. In September 2007, the Court remanded Ms. Jopson's case to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. Jopson v. Astrue, 517 F.Supp.2d 689, 699-700 (D. Del. 2007). Following remand, in August 2008, the ALJ again found that Ms. Jopson was not disabled. (D.I. 6 at 47). In September 2010, the Appeals Council denied Ms. Jopson's appeal from that decision. (Id. at 6-8).

         Ms. Jopson again appealed the decision to this Court seeking review of the Commissioner's final decision denying her DIB claim. (D.I. 1). On September 16, 2015, the Court granted the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 19). Presently, Ms. Jopson requests that the Court alter or amend its order granting summary judgment to Defendant. (D.I. 20).

         I. LEGAL STANDARDS

         The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to "correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Max's Seafood Cafe v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). "A proper Rule 59(e) motion ... must rely on one of three grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666, 669 (3d Cir. 2010).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Ms. Jopson was born on July 26, 1953. Jopson, 517 F.Supp.2d at 691. She has a high school education and past work experience as a bus driver and waitress. Id. She was forty-seven years old at her alleged onset date of disability of April 25, 2001. (D.I. 6 at 234).

         In the 2008 decision, the ALJ found that Ms. Jopson had multiple severe impairments.[1]Specifically, the ALJ found that Ms. Jopson suffered from: "fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, and cervical and lumbar degenerative disc disease." (Id. at 30; cf. Id. at 76 (2005 opinion finding only fibromyalgia, depression and cervical degenerative disc disease)).

         Considering the limitations presented by these impairments, the ALJ made the following Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) finding:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform simple, unskilled, light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except that she could lift 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently, sit for 6 hours in an 8 hour day, stand or walk for 6 hours in an 8 hour day, occasionally climbing, balancing, stooping, crouching, crawling, and kneeling, and avoiding concentrated exposure to extreme cold and hazards.

(Id. at 37; see also Id. at 76 (2005 RFC finding)).

         The ALJ relied on her RFC finding to develop a Vocational Expert (VE) hypothetical. (See Id. at 46). The hypothetical posed by the ALJ was:

[I]f we were to consider a hypothetical person who is about the claimant's stated age at onset, 47 years, 12th grade education, the work history that you cited. This individual has certain underlying impairments that cause limitations. This person, although semiskilled work background, is limited to simple, unskilled work at a light level of exertion with all of the posturals occasional and avoiding concentrated exposure to extremes in cold and to ...

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