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Burton v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 9, 2017

Kathryn Anne Burton
v.
Commissioner, Social Security Administration;

         Dear Counsel:

         On December 24, 2015, Plaintiff Kathryn Anne Burton petitioned this Court to review the Social Security Administration's final decision to deny her claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). (ECF No. 1). I have considered the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, and Ms. Burton's reply. (ECF Nos. 19, 20, 21). I find that no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). This Court must uphold the decision of the Agency if it is supported by substantial evidence and if the Agency employed proper legal standards. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3); Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th Cir. 1996). Under that standard, I will deny Ms. Burton's motion, grant the Commissioner's motion, and affirm the ALJ's decision. This letter explains my rationale.

         Ms. Burton filed her claim for benefits on April 26, 2010, alleging a disability onset date of January 15, 2010. (Tr. 166-72). Her claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Tr. 88-91, 95-101). A hearing was held on July 17, 2014, before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Tr. 30-72). Following the hearing, the ALJ determined that Ms. Burton was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act during the relevant time frame. (Tr. 12-29). The Appeals Council denied Ms. Burton's request for review. (Tr. 1-6). Thus, the ALJ's decision constitutes the final, reviewable decision of the Agency.

         The ALJ found that Ms. Burton suffered from the severe impairments of bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. (Tr. 17). Despite these impairments, the ALJ determined that Ms. Burton retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to:

perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations:
-She must work in a stable work environment where the work place and work process remain generally the same from day to day; and,
- She cannot travel as part of a job; and,
- A supervisor must direct activities of the employee so that they do not need to prioritize tasks; and,
- Instructions should be written as well as oral so that the claimant has something to refer to; and,
- She must perform goal
-oriented work that is not production rate paced; and,
- She can perform no more than occasional decision making using several concrete variables in or from standardized situations; and,
- She can have no public contact either face to face or by ...

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