United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
SERGAWE A. GETACHEW, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. 
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge
Sergawe A. Getachew 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 his applications for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act.
the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 15) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 16). 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, 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.
was born in 1962, has a college education, and previously
worked as a convenience store clerk, convenience store
manager, and customer service representative. R. at 15, 22,
185. Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB on
December 19, 2011, and for SSI on December 31, 2011, alleging
disability beginning on December 4, 2009, due to back and
shoulder injury, high blood pressure, diabetes, blurred
vision, kidney pain, and a broken ankle. R. at 10, 154-64,
184, 231. The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's
applications initially and again on reconsideration, so
Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”). R. at 52-103, 106-13. On February
27, 2014, ALJ Thomas Mercer Ray held a hearing at which
Plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”)
testified. R. at 18-51. At the hearing, Plaintiff amended his
alleged onset date of disability to November 19, 2012. R. at
48-50, 182. On May 15, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision
finding Plaintiff not disabled from the amended alleged onset
date of disability of November 19, 2012, 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 June 12, 2015. 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).
22, 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.
State Agency Medical Consultants
March 5, 2012, a state agency medical consultant, Navjeet
Singh, M.D., assessed Plaintiff's physical residual
functional capacity (“RFC”). R. at 57-59, 64-66.
Dr. Singh 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 57-58, 64-65. Plaintiff occasionally could
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb ramps and
stairs. R. at 58, 65. He frequently could climb ladders,
ropes, and scaffolds. R. at 58, 65. Plaintiff had no
manipulative, visual, communicative, or environmental
limitations. R. at 58, 65.
November 5, 2012, another state agency consultant, A.R.
Totoonchie, M.D., again assessed Plaintiff's physical
RFC. R. at 76-78, 89-91. 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 76, 89. Dr. Totoonchie opined
that Plaintiff occasionally could balance, stoop, kneel,
crouch, crawl, and climb ramps and stairs. R. at 77, 90. He
frequently could climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. R. at
77, 90. Although he was visually limited in his left eye
because of a failed corneal transplant, Plaintiff had no
manipulative, communicative, or environmental limitations. R.
at 77, 90.
reviewed Plaintiff's testimony in his decision:
[Plaintiff] has alleged disability due to vision problems,
ankle pain, chest pain, and diabetes. At the hearing,
[Plaintiff] testified that his left eye vision has not
improved, despite two surgeries. He also experiences
recurrent chest pain and heart palpitations, after having had
two surgeries. He takes nitroglycerine for chest pain about
three to four times per week. Side effects of his medications
include nausea, fatigue, and blurred vision. His ...