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Gilmore v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

January 18, 2019

Diane Renee Gilmore, Claimant
v.
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant

          Christopher G. Roundy, Esq. John J. Engel, Esq. Michael L. Henry, Esq.

          ORDER

          Steven J. McAuliffe United States District Judge

         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), claimant, Diane Renee Gilmore, moves to reverse or vacate the Acting Commissioner's decision denying her application for Supplemental Security Income Benefits under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383(c). The Acting Commissioner objects and moves for an order affirming her decision.

         For the reasons discussed below, claimant's motion is denied, and the Acting Commissioner's motion is granted.

         Factual Background

         I. Procedural History.

         Gilmore filed an application for supplemental security income on September 22, 2015, [1] alleging that she had been unable to work since January 7, 2007, due to a combination of mental and physical impairments.[2] Administrative Record (“Admin. Rec.”) at 57, 121. That application was denied (Admin. Rec. at 57, 71), and claimant requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Admin. Rec. at 78).

         On September 28, 2017, Gilmore appeared with counsel before an ALJ, along with a vocational expert, who considered claimant's application de novo. Admin. Rec. at 23-71. At the hearing, claimant amended her alleged onset date to August 20, 2015. Admin. Rec. at 576. On October 17, 2017, the ALJ issued his written decision, concluding that Gilmore was not disabled, as that term is defined in the Act, at any time prior to the date of the decision. Id. at 10-22.

         Gilmore sought review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council. Admin. Rec. at 119. By notice dated January 29, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Gilmore's request for review. Admin. Rec. at 1-4. Accordingly, the ALJ's denial of Gilmore's application for benefits became the final decision of the Acting Commissioner, subject to judicial review. Id. at 1. Subsequently, claimant filed a timely action in this court, asserting that the ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence.

         II. Stipulated Facts.

         Pursuant to this court's Local Rule 9.1, the parties have submitted a statement of stipulated facts which, because it is part of the court's record (document no. 10), need not be recounted in this opinion. Those facts relevant to the disposition of this matter are discussed as appropriate.

         Standard of Review

         I. “Substantial Evidence” and Deferential Review.

         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the court is empowered “to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing.” Factual findings and credibility determinations made by the Commissioner are conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). See also Irlanda Ortiz v. Secretary of Health & Human Services, 955 F.2d 765, 769 (1st Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938). It is something less than a preponderance of the evidence, so the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence ...


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