Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ramos v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 5, 2019

MARISEL RAMOS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          RULING ON MOTION TO REVERSE THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER AND MOTION TO AFFIRM THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Marisel Ramos filed for Social Security disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, which Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Jason Mastrangelo denied. Social Security Transcripts by Social Security Administration, ECF No. 14 (“Tr.”), at 22.

         Ms. Ramos has now filed a motion to reverse the ALJ's disability determination. Motion to Reverse the Decision of the Commissioner, ECF No. 21 (“Mot. to Reverse”).

         In response, Nancy Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Acting Commissioner”), [1] has moved for an order affirming the ALJ's decision. Motion to Affirm the Decision of the Commissioner, ECF No. 22 (“Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Affirm”).

         For the following reasons, the Court DENIES the motion to reverse the Acting Commissioner's decision and GRANTS the motion to affirm the Acting Commissioner's decision.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         1. Disability Allegations

         On December 16, 2015, Ms. Ramos applied for Title II Social Security disability, alleging her injuries prevented her from working as of November 12, 2015. Application for Disability Insurance, Tr. at 156. In her application, Ms. Ramos listed osteoarthritis[2] in both ankles, heal spurs, fibromyalgia, [3] migraines, herniated/bulging disk in back, fatigue, and anxiety. Disability Report, Tr. at 181.

         On January 24, 2016, Ms. Ramos submitted a daily activity report to the Commissioner. Activities of Daily Living, Tr. at 190. She reported taking her daughter to school and engaging in limited household chores because she does not want to over-exert herself due to fibromyalgia. Id. Because of the pain, Ms. Ramos attested that she was unable to stand, sit, or walk for extended periods, and she had trouble sleeping. Id. at 191. Ms. Ramos alleges that the pain had limited her to two household chores per day. Id. at 192. Ms. Ramos also attested that her conditions limited her ability to lift, squat, bend, stand, reach, walk, sit, kneel, climb stairs, complete task, use her hands, concentrate, and remember details. Id. at 194.

         On March 25, 2016, the State of Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitations Services conducted a disability determination on Ms. Ramos. Disability Determination Exam, Tr. at 379. Dr. Joseph Guarnaccia concluded that as a “42 year old woman with lower back pain, fibromyalgia and other joint pain with limitations in the use of her arms and hands. She would have difficulty performing physical work related to activities requiring walking, standing, sitting, lifting, carrying [, ] handling, [and] bending.” Id. at 382.

         On April 5, 2016, the Acting Commissioner determined that Ms. Ramos was not disabled. Disability Determination Explanation, Tr. at 67. The Acting Commissioner determined that Ms. Ramos had severe joint, fibromyalgia, spine, and migraine impairments. Tr. at 61. The Acting Commissioner also concluded that Ms. Ramos could occasionally lift twenty pounds, frequently lift ten pounds, stand or walk for six hours of an eight-hour workday, sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday, and had unlimited use of her hands and feet to operate controls. Id. at 63. The Acting Commissioner then concluded that Ms. Ramos could occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl but should never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Id. at 64. The Acting Commissioner next concluded that Ms. Ramos could work as a laundry folder, weigher, and bagger garment. Id. at 67. The Acting Commissioner finally determined that Ms. Ramos's “condition results in some limitations in [her] ability to perform work related activities, ” but “that [her] condition is not severe enough to keep [her] from working.” Id.

         On May 31, 2016, the Acting Commissioner denied Ms. Ramos's reconsideration for the same reasons. Disability Determination for Reconsideration, Tr. at 70-82.

         On June 15, 2016, Ms. Ramos then made a written request for a hearing. Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge, Tr. at 107-08.

         On March 22, 2017, Administrative Law Judge Mastrangelo held a hearing on Ms. Ramos's disability claim. Hearing Transcript, Tr. at 28.

         2. Ms. Ramos's Testimony

         At the hearing, Ms. Ramos testified that she had not worked since November 2015. Hearing Transcript, Tr. at 33. Ms. Ramos testified that she was forty-three years old, had a twelve-year-old daughter, finished the eleventh grade, and had a Connecticut driver's license. Id. at 32-33. She also testified that she did not have any difficulty driving. Id. at 33. Ms. Ramos testified that she formerly worked as a bus driver and cleaner. Id. at 34-35. In those roles, Ms. Ramos testified that she did not have to lift or carry anything weighing more than fifteen pounds. Id. at 35.

         Ms. Ramos also testified that she would be unable to work those jobs now because of back and leg injuries. Id. Specifically, she stopped working in her last job as a bus driver because she could not drive for hours on the bus. Id. at 45. In addition, Ms. Ramos testified that she would not be able to tolerate an eight-hour-per-day job because of pain-mostly in her joints, mainly in hands, knees, and neck, due to fibromyalgia. Id. at 36-37. Moreover, physical therapy and medication have not helped Ms. Ramos manage the pain, but she had never used a cane or walker to walk. Id. 37-38.

         Ms. Ramos testified that her level of pain ranged, depending on the day, with the worst days resulting in her not leaving bed for up to two days. Id. at 41. Ms. Ramos testified that these days happen up to twice a month and last for a full day. Id. at 42. Ms. Ramos alleges that the pain prevents her from standing for more than a half hour, sitting for more than forty minutes, or lifting heavy objects. Id. at 45.

         Ms. Ramos then testified that she had difficulty clothing herself, attends church three times per week, but often had issues with fatigue. Id. at 39.

         Ms. Ramos also noted that she does not see a psychiatrist or therapist for her depression and anxiety. Id. at 46.

         3.Vocational Expert Testimony

         At the Ms. Ramos's disability hearing, Larry Takki, vocational counselor, testified as the Acting Commissioner's vocational expert. Hearing Transcript, Tr. at 46. Mr. Takki testified that someone with Ms. Ramos's current limitations would prohibit her from her past work as a bus driver. Id. at 47-48. Mr. Takki, however, testified that someone with Ms. Ramos's limitations would be able to work the following jobs: as a price marker, which had 469, 000 jobs in the United States; as an electronics sub-assembler, which had 180, 000 jobs in the United States; and as a table worker, which had 400, 000 jobs in the United States. Id. at 48-49.

         Mr. Takki also testified that if someone had an upper extremity fingering limitation with their dominant hand, that person would likely not be able to meet the industry standards for those professions. Id. at 49. When limited to light or sedentary work, Mr. Takki testified that there would be no jobs that could accommodate the extremity fingering limitation. Id. at 50.

         If an individual would be unable to carry ten pounds occasionally, less than ten pounds frequently, and was unable to sit, stand, or walk eight hours in an eight-hour workday, then that individual, with any factor individually and collectively, would be precluded from all work. Id. at 50-51.

         If someone was off task more than ten to fifteen percent of their time, then Mr. Takki testified that limitation would preclude all work. Id. at 51.

         During cross-examination, Ms. Ramos's attorney only asked about whether the same sit and stand limitations applied to the table worker as to the vocations. Id. at 52.

         4. The ALJ's Decision

         After considering the evidence, the Administrative Law Judge Jason Mastrangelo concluded that Ms. Ramos was not disabled. Tr. at 11. In the decision, the ALJ made the following eleven findings:

1. Ms. Ramos met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act and will continue to meet the requirements until December 31, 2020, Tr. at 12;
2. Ms. Ramos had not engaged in substantially gainful activity since November 12, 2015, Id. (citing 20 CFR 404.1571));
3. Ms. Ramos had fibromyalgia, a spine disorder, right-knee bursitis, [4] and right medial epicondylitis, [5] which have a severe impact on Ms. Ramos's ability to perform basic work related activities but were not enough, either individually or in combination, for an impairment determination under Section 12.00 of Appendix 1, Id. at 12-15 (citing 20 CFR 404.1520(c));
4. Ms. Ramos does 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 15;
5. Ms. Ramos had the residual functional capacity to perform less than the full range of light work defined by 20 CFR 404.1567(b), Ms. Ramos was limited to lifting and carrying twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, she was restricted to standing and walking for four hours of an eight- hour workday and sitting for six hours in an eight-hour workday, Ms. Ramos was limited to occasional climbing of rams and stairs, Ms. Ramos must never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, Ms. Ramos was restricted to occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling, and Ms. Ramos must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, heights, and hazardous machines, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.