United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge
Shell Jackson 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 her application for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act. Before the Court are
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15) and
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 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.
18) is GRANTED, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 15) is DENIED, and the Commissioner's final
decision is AFFIRMED.
was born in 1962, has a high-school education, and previously
worked as a program management analyst and payroll clerk. R.
at 20-21. Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB
on February 3, 2012, alleging disability beginning on August
1, 2008, due to, among other things, fibromyalgia, sleep
apnea, diabetes, pain, high blood pressure, liver disorder,
and fatigue. R. at 14, 136-39, 160, 172. The Commissioner
denied Plaintiff's application initially and again on
reconsideration, so Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). R. at 43-66,
69-72. On April 22, 2014, ALJ Jeffrey M. Jordan held a
hearing at which Plaintiff and a vocational expert
(“VE”) testified. R. at 23-42. On May 29, 2014,
the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled from
the alleged onset date of disability of August 1, 2008,
through the date last insured of December 31, 2013. R. at
11-22. Plaintiff sought review of this decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied Plaintiff's request for
review on October 16, 2015. R. at 1-10. 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
December 16, 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.
State Agency Medical Consultants
April 11, 2012, a state agency medical consultant, S.K.
Najar, M.D., assessed Plaintiff's physical residual
functional capacity (“RFC”). R. at 48-49. Dr.
Najar opined that Plaintiff could (1) lift and/or carry
twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; (2)
stand and/or walk for a total of about six hours in an
eight-hour workday; (3) sit for about six hours in an
eight-hour workday; and (4) perform unlimited pushing and/or
pulling. R. at 48. Plaintiff frequently could balance, and
she occasionally could climb, stoop, kneel, crouch, and
crawl. R. at 48-49. Although Plaintiff had no manipulative,
visual, or communicative limitations, she was to avoid even
moderate exposure to hazards such as machinery and heights.
R. at 49. On October 3, 2012, another state agency
consultant, W. Hakkarinen, M.D., expressed the same opinion
about Plaintiff's physical RFC. R. at 58-60.
reviewed Plaintiff's testimony in his decision:
[Plaintiff] alleges that she is unable to work, due to her
physical impairments. [Plaintiff] testified that she stopped
working, due to pain from fibromyalgia and she alleged that
this caused her to miss one to two days of work per week. She
also testified that she cannot hold her 11-pound grandchild,
and she experiences swelling two to three times per week.
[Plaintiff] contended that she experiences two bad days per
week, where she just lies in bed.
R. at 18; see R. at 27-38.
testified that a hypothetical individual with Plaintiff's
same age, education, and work experience with the RFC
outlined below in Part III could perform Plaintiff's past
relevant work and also could perform the sedentary jobs of
appointment clerk, information clerk, and service
dispatcher. R. at 39-40. With the exception of her
testimony regarding a sit-stand option, the VE's
testimony was consistent with the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles. R. ...