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Tresh v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 9, 2017

STEPHANIE WALLACE TRESH, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Stephanie Tresh (“plaintiff” or “Tresh”) filed this action appealing the denial of her application for disability benefits against defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“the Commissioner”). This Court will treat plaintiff's letter to the Court (Docket No. 20) dated April 24, 2017, purporting to be a status report, as a motion to reverse the decision of the Commissioner. Also pending before the Court is defendant's motion to affirm. For the reasons that follow, the motion to reverse will be denied and the motion to affirm will be allowed.

         I. Background

         A. Employment History and Alleged Disability

         Tresh was born in 1967 and resides in Massachusetts. After high school, Tresh worked as an accounting assistant, office assistant and office manager full time while taking college courses at night. After earning her associate's degree in marketing and design, she worked as an intern web designer and later as a full time employee. After obtaining her bachelor's degree in business management, she worked as a web designer for six years.

         Tresh explains that, in 2005, while she was pregnant with her second child, she began experiencing back pain. Eventually she was diagnosed as having a herniated disc. She was treated with steroid shots which made the pain more bearable but did not resolve her symptoms completely.

         According to Tresh, in 2006 she was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (“RA”) and, although it was treated, she still had daily joint pain. She was further found to suffer from fibromyalgia and Reynaud disease, apparently related to her RA.

         After her second child was born, Tresh began experiencing migraine headaches which resulted in vomiting and sensitivity to light. Tresh explains that she went to emergency rooms for the migraines because intravenous medication was the only successful treatment. In 2011, she was hospitalized for complex migraines.

         Plaintiff asserts that, because of her health problems and her caretaking responsibilities for two young children, she quit her employment. She has allegedly tried several treatment regimens for her various ailments with only moderate or intermittent success.

         B. Procedural Background

         In December, 2012, plaintiff filed an application for Social Security disability insurance (“SSDI”) benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act in which she alleges that she became disabled in November, 2007 because of the ailments described above. In February, 2013, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied her claim and the following August her claim was again denied after reconsideration.

         Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing in October, 2013. A hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Eric Eklund (“the ALJ”). Plaintiff was represented by counsel. An impartial vocational expert also testified at the hearing. The ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled as defined by the Social Security Act (“the Act”). 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff timely filed a request for review with the Appeals Council. That request was denied in November, 2015, rendering the ALJ's determination a final decision subject to judicial review. See Da Rosa v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 803 F.2d 24, 25 (1st Cir.1986).

         Plaintiff filed her complaint with this Court in April, 2016. The Commissioner filed a motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution in April, 2017. Plaintiff's status report filed in June, 2017, referred to above, is treated as a motion to reverse the Commissioner's decision. The Commissioner filed a motion to affirm in July, 2017. Both motions are the subject of this memorandum.

         II. Social Security Disability Insurance Appeal ...


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