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Bannister v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

March 4, 2016

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.



Plaintiff Lynette Bannister seeks judicial review under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant” or the “Commissioner”) denying her applications for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. Before the Court are Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 12) and Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 13).[1] Plaintiff contends that the administrative record does not contain substantial evidence to support the Commissioner’s decision that she is not disabled. No hearing is necessary. L.R. 105.6. For the reasons that follow, Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 13) is GRANTED, Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment

(ECF No. 12) is DENIED, and the Commissioner’s final decision is AFFIRMED.

I Background

Plaintiff was born in 1963, has a tenth-grade education, and previously worked as a cleaner and fast-food crew worker. R. at 16, 178, 183. Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on January 24, 2012 (with a protective filing date of January 12, 2012), alleging disability beginning on January 1, 2011 (later amended to February 17, 2013), due to high blood pressure, hernia, pain, numbness, arthritis, and vision problems from diabetes. R. at 10, 25, 137-50, 182. The Commissioner denied Plaintiff’s applications initially and again on reconsideration, so Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). R. at 50-79, 84-88, 91, 93-98. On December 5, 2013, ALJ William T. Vest, Jr., held a hearing at which Plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. R. at 21-49. On January 2, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled from the amended alleged onset date of disability of February 17, 2013, through the date of the decision. R. at 7-17. Plaintiff sought review of this decision by the Appeals Council, which denied Plaintiff’s request for review on November 21, 2014. R. at 1-6. The ALJ’s decision thus became the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481; see also Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07, 120 S.Ct. 2080, 2083 (2000).

On January 26, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court seeking review of the Commissioner’s decision. Upon the parties’ consent, this case was transferred to a United States Magistrate Judge for final disposition and entry of judgment. The case subsequently was reassigned to the undersigned. The parties have briefed the issues, and the matter is now fully submitted.

II Summary of Evidence

A. State Agency Medical Consultants

On March 20, 2012, H. Stevens, M.D., a state agency medical consultant, opined that Plaintiff had no medically determinable impairments. R. at 53, 58. On November 1, 2012, another state agency consultant, S. Rudin, M.D., opined that Plaintiff’s medically determinable impairments of diabetes mellitus (“DM”) and essential hypertension were not severe. R. at 67-68, 75-76.

B. Deidre Maccannon, M.D.

Dr. Maccannon conducted a consultative examination of Plaintiff on October 13, 2012 (R. at 290-96), which the ALJ reviewed in his decision:

Dr. Maccannon found [Plaintiff] had 5/5 muscle strength, 2 reflexes, a steady gait and good coordination. Her cranial nerves were grossly intact and she found no joint swelling, erythema, effusion, tenderness or deformity. [Plaintiff] was able to squat and rise with ease. She could heel and toe walk, tandem walk, and dress and undress adequately. [Plaintiff’s] range of motion was normal in her cervical and thoracic spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees ankle [sic] and feet bilaterally. Dr. Maccannon’s impression was that the examination was essentially normal and [Plaintiff’s] prognosis good with good glucose control.
Moreover, Dr. Mccannon [sic] found [Plaintiff] could sit, stand and walk normally within an eight-hour day without an assistive device. Dr. Maccannon found no limitations lifting, carrying, bending, stooping, crouching or squatting. There were no manipulative limitations. Dr. Maccannon found [Plaintiff] was positive with glare from headlights. Her OD was 20/50 and OS was 20/100. She found some visual limits due to decreased visual acuity.

R. at 15 (citation omitted).

C. Khuram ...

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