United States District Court, D. Delaware
MaLachy E. Mannion United States District Judge.
above-captioned action is one seeking review of a decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying the plaintiff's
applications for Social Security Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social
Security Act (“Act”), 42 U.S.C.
§§401-433. The court has jurisdiction pursuant to
42 U.S.C. §405(g). Currently before the court are the
parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. (Doc. 12,
Doc. 14). For the reasons set forth below, the
plaintiff's motion will be denied and the defendant's
motion will be granted. Thus, the court will affirm the
insurance benefits are paid to an individual if that
individual is disabled and “insured, ” that is,
the individual has worked long enough and paid social
security taxes. The last date that a claimant meets the
requirements of being insured is commonly referred to as the
“date last insured.” It is undisputed that
plaintiff meets the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2020. In order to establish entitlement
to disability insurance benefits, the plaintiff was required
to establish that she suffered from a disability on or before
that date. 42 U.S.C. §423(a)(1)(A), (c)(1)(B); 20 C.F.R.
§404.131(a); see Matullo v. Bowen, 926 F.2d
240, 244 (3d Cir. 1990).
plaintiff was born on March 26, 1970, and was 44 years old,
defined as a younger individual, on her alleged disability
onset date. The plaintiff has a high school education and is
able to communicate in English. Her past work includes
positions as an auto assembler, line cook and school bus
driver. The plaintiff alleges that June 13, 2014, she became
disabled and unable to work.
plaintiff protectively filed a claim for DIB on June 25,
2014, and a claim for SSI on June 30, 2014, alleging
disability commencing on June 13, 2014 in both applications.
The agency initially denied the plaintiff's applications
on August 26, 2014. The plaintiff filed a request for
reconsideration and, on March 20, 2015, the agency denied her
request. The plaintiff then requested a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), which was held
on January 18, 2017. The plaintiff was represented by counsel
at her hearing. In addition to the plaintiff's testimony,
the ALJ heard the testimony of a vocational expert
issued a decision on March 10, 2017, finding that the
plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act at
any time from June 13, 2014, the alleged onset date of
disability, through the date of his decision. The plaintiff
filed a request for review and, on September 20, 2017, the
Appeals Council denied her request for review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
Since the plaintiff exhausted her administrative remedies,
she initiated the present action on November 6, 2017,
appealing the final decision of defendant. (Doc. 1).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing the denial of disability benefits, the court must
determine whether the denial is supported by substantial
evidence. Brown v. Bowen, 845 F.2d 1211, 1213 (3d
Cir. 1988); Johnson v. Commissioner of Social Sec.,
529 F.3d 198, 200 (3d Cir. 2008). Substantial evidence
“does not mean a large or considerable amount of
evidence, but rather such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552 (1988);
Hartranft v. Apfel, 181 F.3d 358, 360 (3d Cir.
1999); Johnson, 529 F.3d at 200. It is less than a
preponderance of the evidence but more than a mere scintilla.
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).
receive disability benefits, the plaintiff must demonstrate
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 12 months.” 42 U.S.C.
[a]n individual shall be determined to be under a disability
only if [her] physical or mental impairment or impairments
are of such severity that [s]he is not only unable to do
h[er] 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, regardless of whether such work exists in the
immediate area in which [s]he lives, or whether a specific
job vacancy exists for [her], or whether [s]he would be hired
if [s]he applied for work. For purposes of the preceding
sentence (with respect to any individual), ‘work which
exists in the national economy' means work which exists
in significant numbers either in the region where such
individual lives or in several regions of the country.
42 U.S.C. §423(d)(2)(A).
present case, there are cross-motions for summary judgment.
“In Social Security cases, the substantial evidence
standard applies to motions for summary judgment brought
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c).”
Antoniolo v. Colvin, 208 F.Supp.3d 587, 595 (D.Del.
2016) (citing Woody v. Sec'y of the Dep't of
Health & Human Servs., 859 F.2d 1156, 1159 (3d