United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DiGirolamo, United States Magistrate Judge.
Samuel Leo Hedgepeth seeks judicial review under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (“Defendant” or the
“Commissioner”) denying his application for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act. Before the Court are
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and alternative
motion for remand (ECF No. 14), Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15), and Plaintiff's Response
to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
Plaintiff contends that the administrative record does not
contain substantial evidence to support the
Commissioner's decision that he is not disabled. No
hearing is necessary. L.R. 105.6. For the reasons that
follow, Plaintiff's alternative motion for remand (ECF
No. 14) is GRANTED.
was born in 1950, has a high-school education, and previously
worked as a security guard, van driver, school bus driver,
warehouse worker, and industrial park operator. R. at 24, 33,
198-99. Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB
on September 29, 2011, alleging disability beginning on
August 1, 2011, due to a pinched nerve in his back. R. at
171-77, 194, 198. The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's
application initially and again on reconsideration, so
Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”). R. at 79-109, 114-19. On October
7, 2013, ALJ Robert W. Young held a hearing in Baltimore,
Maryland, at which Plaintiff and a vocational expert
(“VE”) testified. R. at 30-78. On November 27,
2013, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled from the alleged onset date of disability of August
1, 2011, through the date of the decision. R. at 15-29.
Plaintiff sought review of this decision by the Appeals
Council, which denied Plaintiff's request for review on
March 26, 2015. R. at 1-6, 10-11, 258-60. The ALJ's
decision thus became the final decision of the Commissioner.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981; see also Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07, 120 S.Ct. 2080, 2083
4, 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.
Summary of Evidence
Court reviews here and in Part VI below Plaintiff's
relevant medical evidence.
December 27, 2011, a state agency medical consultant, Judy
Kleppel, M.D., opined that Plaintiff's back impairment
was not severe and thus did not assess his residual
functional capacity (“RFC”). R. at 82-83, 88-89.
March 5, 2012, an MRI of Plaintiff's lumbar spine
revealed, among other things, “left-sided disc
herniations at ¶ 3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1. This is most
significant at ¶ 5-S1 where there is a left paracentral
disc extrusion [?] which impinges the left S1 nerve
root.” R. at 347, 348.
24, 2012, Lawrence Honick, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon,
conducted a consultative examination of Plaintiff. R. at
328-34; see R. at 22. Dr. Honick noted:
Currently [Plaintiff] complains of constant severe pain in
the entire left side of his body beginning in his neck and
involving his left arm, chest, back, left hip and entire left
lower extremity. There is occasional numbness in the left
hand, and constant numbness over the medial aspect of the
right thigh and leg.
R. at 328. On physical examination of Plaintiff, Dr. Honick
Examination of the back reveals no abnormalities of
curvature. Moderate tenderness is noted throughout the lower
back, mostly on the left, without spasm. Motion is limited as
noted. The straight-leg-raising test is negative, and no
motor deficits are noted in the lower extremities. He has
full range of motion of the hips without pain.
R. at 329. Dr. Honick recommended X-rays and MRI
scans of both the cervical and lumbar spines, as well as
X-rays of the pelvis, including the left hip. R. at 329. Dr.
Honick found no convincing evidence of any work restrictions
on a musculoskeletal basis. R. at 329.
26, 2012, another state agency consultant, M. Feld, M.D.,
again opined that Plaintiff's impairment was not severe.
R. at 96, 103.