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Quaglia v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 8, 2014

CARLENE M. QUAGLIA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Carlene M. Quaglia, Plaintiff: Morris Greenberg, LEAD ATTORNEY, Green & Greenberg, Providence, RI.

For Michael J Astrue, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant: Anita Johnson, LEAD ATTORNEY, United States Attorney's Office, Boston, MA.

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MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

WILLIAM G. YOUNG, DISTRICT JUDGE.

I. INTRODUCTION

Carlene M. Quaglia (" Quaglia" ) brings this action against Carolyn W. Colvin,[1] Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the " Commissioner" ). Quaglia asks this Court to reverse and remand the Commissioner's decision denying Quaglia's application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. Pl.'s Mot. Reverse Decision Comm'r (" Quaglia's Mot." ), ECF No. 18. The Commissioner requests an order affirming the decision. Mot. Order Affirming Decision Comm'r (" Def.'s Mot." ), ECF No. 22.

A. Procedural Posture[2]

Quaglia filed for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income on June 24, 2004, asserting disability beginning September 1, 2003. Pl.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Reverse Decision Comm'r (" Quaglia's Mem." ) 1, ECF No. 19. After an initial denial of benefits, Quaglia requested a hearing on May 12, 2005. Administrative Record (" Admin. R." ) 79.[3] She appeared and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Barry H. Best (the " first hearing officer" ) on August 17, 2006. Id. at 79, 88. Quaglia, her attorney, a medical expert, and a vocational expert appeared at a supplemental hearing held November 21, 2006. Quaglia's Mem. 2. In an opinion dated January 26, 2007, the first hearing officer determined Quaglia was entitled to neither disability insurance benefits nor supplemental security income. Admin. R. 88. The Appeals Council denied Quaglia's request for review, prompting her to appeal to this Court for relief. Quaglia's Mem. 2.

Quaglia filed the complaint in this action on March 18, 2009, requesting this court reverse the first hearing officer's decision denying benefits. Compl. 1, ECF No. 1. For reasons not clear from the record or the parties' filings, the transcript from the November 21, 2006 hearing could not be located, prompting the Commissioner to request voluntary remand to the agency to carry out further proceedings and to reconstruct the administrative record. Def.'s Assented Mot. Remand Case Further Admin. Action Pursuant Sentence 6 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), ECF No. 9. This Court granted that motion in January 2010. Order Remand, Jan. 7, 2010, ECF No. 10.

On September 27, 2010, a new hearing occurred at the Social Security Administration before Administrative Law Judge Joel F. Gardiner (the " hearing officer" ). Quaglia's Mem. 2. Quaglia, her attorney, and a vocational expert appeared. Id. The hearing officer rendered unfavorable decisions in a recommended decision dated

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October 15, 2010, and a final decision dated January 19, 2011, which both concluded Quaglia was not disabled and denied benefits. See Admin. R. 16-39. On April 3, 2012, the Appeals Council declined to exercise jurisdiction, id. at 7, finalizing the hearing officer's decision and leading to the reinstatement of the case before this Court on May 21, 2012. Assented Mot. Vacate Order Remand & Reinstate Case & Request Leave File Answer 1, ECF No. 13; Electronic Order, May 21, 2012.

The Commissioner answered Quaglia's original complaint on September 5, 2012. Answer, ECF No. 14. On November 12, 2012, Quaglia filed a motion to reverse the Commissioner's decision, together with a memorandum in support. Quaglia's Mot; Quaglia's Mem. The Commissioner in turn filed a motion to affirm the decision with a memorandum in support on ...


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