Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Green v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 20, 2017

CHYRASSIE GREEN, [1]Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.[2]

          MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Thomas M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Chyrassie Green 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. 16).[3] 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. 16) is GRANTED, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15) is DENIED, and the Commissioner's final decision is AFFIRMED.

         I

         Background

         Plaintiff was born in 1972, has a college education, and previously worked as a teacher, special-education teacher, database administrator, and user support analyst. R. at 27-28, 233. Plaintiff applied for DIB on September 24, 2013, alleging disability beginning on June 8, 2012, due to degenerative arthritis in the spine and chronic adjustment disorder. R. at 16, 204-07, 232. The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application initially and again on reconsideration, so Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). R. at 84-114, 117, 119-21. On December 18, 2014, ALJ Francine L. Applewhite held a hearing in Baltimore, Maryland, at which Plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. R. at 34-83. On January 14, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled from the alleged onset date of disability of June 8, 2012, through the date of the decision. R. at 13-33. Plaintiff sought review of this decision by the Appeals Council, which denied Plaintiff's request for review on September 11, 2015. R. at 1-4, 12. 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 (2000).

         On November 13, 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

         The Court reviews here and in Part VI below Plaintiff's relevant medical evidence.

         A. State Agency Medical Consultants

         On December 4, 2013, a state agency consultant, Maurice Prout, Ph.D., using the psychiatric review technique (“PRT”) under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520a, evaluated Plaintiff's mental impairment under Listing 12.04 relating to affective disorders (R. at 88-89). See 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1, § 12.04. Dr. Prout opined that, under paragraph B of the applicable listing, Plaintiff's mental impairment caused her to experience (1) mild restriction in activities of daily living; (2) mild difficulties in maintaining social functioning; (3) mild difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; and (4) no repeated episodes of decompensation of extended duration. R. at 89. Dr. Prout did not find evidence to establish the presence of the criteria under paragraph C of the applicable listing. R. at 89. Dr. Prout ultimately found that Plaintiff's mental impairment was not severe. R. at 89.

         On January 7, 2014, a state agency medical consultant, A.R. Totoonchie, M.D., assessed Plaintiff's physical residual functional capacity (“RFC”). R. at 90-91. Dr. Totoonchie 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 90-91. Plaintiff occasionally could climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl, but she had no manipulative, visual, communicative, or environmental limitations. R. at 91.

         On August 14, 2014, another state agency consultant, A. Serpick, M.D., again assessed Plaintiff's physical RFC. R. at 104-06. Dr. Serpick 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 105. Dr. Serpick also opined that Plaintiff occasionally could climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl, but she had no manipulative, visual, communicative, or environmental limitations. R. at 105-06.

         On August 21, 2014, another state agency consultant, Robin McCallister, Ph.D., used the PRT to evaluate Plaintiff's mental impairments under Listings 12.04, 12.06, and 12.09 relating to affective, anxiety-related, and substance addiction disorders (R. at 101-03). See 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1, §§ 12.04, 12.06, 12.09. Dr. McCallister opined that, under paragraph B of the applicable listings, Plaintiff's mental impairments caused her to experience (1) mild restriction in activities of daily living; (2) moderate difficulties in maintaining social functioning; (3) moderate difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; and (4) no repeated episodes of decompensation of extended duration. R. at 102. Dr. McCallister did not find evidence to establish the presence of the criteria under paragraph C of the applicable listings. R. at 102. Dr. McCallister thus assessed Plaintiff's mental RFC (R. at 106-08) and opined that she was moderately limited in her ability to (1) carry out detailed instructions; (2) maintain attention and concentration for extended periods; (3) complete a normal workday and workweek without interruptions from psychologically based symptoms and to perform at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of rest periods; (4) interact appropriately with the general public; and to (5) respond appropriately to changes in the work setting. Plaintiff otherwise was not significantly limited. R. at 106-08. Dr. McCallister opined that Plaintiff could (1) understand and remember simple and detailed instructions; (2) typically carry out simple and some detailed instructions in two-hour increments during an eight-hour workday across a forty-hour workweek; (3) typically relate adequately without evidence of the potential for significant problems with co-workers and supervisors; and (4) adapt to changes and pressures in a routine work environment. R. at 108.

         B. Hearing Testimony

         1. Plaintiff's Testimony

         The ALJ reviewed Plaintiff's testimony in her decision:

[Plaintiff] alleged that physical and mental symptoms limit her ability to engage in work activities. Specifically, she averred that her degenerative arthritis in the spine, and chronic adjustment disorder rendered her disabled [R. at 232]. [Plaintiff] appeared at the hearing and offered testimony that her medications make her fall asleep. [Plaintiff] stated that 2-3 times a week she will isolate herself at home. [Plaintiff] indicated that she will not do any activities at those times. [Plaintiff] stated that she has daily pain in her back, radiating down from her lower lumbar section into her buttocks.
[Plaintiff] stated that her right hand caused her to drop things at times. [Plaintiff] stated that she could sit for 15-20 minutes before having to shift position. [Plaintiff] indicated that she has difficulties with incontinence tied to her back. [Plaintiff] stated that she must use the restroom about an hour after drinking. [Plaintiff] testified that she uses pads she changes 2-3 times a day. [Plaintiff] stated that she will dig and scratch at herself when things are out of her control. [Plaintiff] submitted a function report indicating that she could walk for 10 minutes before having to stop and rest [R. at 254.] As a consequence, [Plaintiff] believes she is incapable of all work activity.

R. at 21-22; see R. at 39-77.

         2. VE Testimony

         The VE testified that a hypothetical person with Plaintiff's same age, education, and work experience who had the RFC outlined in Part III below could not perform Plaintiff's past work but could perform the sedentary, semi-skilled jobs of data entry operator, civil service clerk, order control clerk, or actuarial clerk.[4] R. at 28-29, 78-80. The VE's testimony was consistent with the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.[5] R. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.