United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
M. DIGIROLAMO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
James Ellis Simms 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 (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 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.
18) is DENIED, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 15) is DENIED, and this matter is REMANDED under the
fourth sentence of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
was born in 1960, has an eleventh-grade education, and
previously worked as a janitor/custodian, groundskeeper, and
truck loader. R. at 19, 219, 224. Plaintiff protectively
filed an application for DIB on December 19, 2011, alleging
disability beginning on April 3, 2008, due to rheumatoid
arthritis and gout. R. at 11, 167-68, 218. The Commissioner
denied Plaintiff's application initially and again on
reconsideration, so Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). R. at 76-95,
104-07, 110-13. On March 5, 2014, ALJ Jennifer M. Long held a
hearing in Washington, D.C., at which Plaintiff and a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified. R. at 27-73.
At the hearing, Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date of
disability to February 18, 2010. R. at 29, 185. On April 22,
2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled from April 3, 2008, through the date last insured of
December 31, 2013. R. at 8-26. Plaintiff sought review of
this decision by the Appeals Council, which denied
Plaintiff's request for review on June 9, 2015. R. at
1-7. 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).
23, 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
State Agency Medical Consultants
16, 2012, a state agency medical consultant, Navjeet Singh,
M.D., assessed Plaintiff's physical residual functional
capacity (“RFC”). R. at 79-81. 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 80. Plaintiff
occasionally could climb, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. R.
at 80. He frequently could balance. R. at 80. Plaintiff's
reaching with his left upper extremity was limited to
“very occasional reaching” in front, laterally,
and overhead because his left shoulder's range of motion
was significantly limited. R. at 80-81. Plaintiff had no
visual, communicative, or environmental limitations. R. at
81. On December 10, 2012, another state agency consultant, W.
Hakkarinen, M.D., concurred with Dr. Singh's opinion
regarding Plaintiff's physical RFC. R. at 90-92.
reviewed Plaintiff's testimony in her decision:
[Plaintiff] testified that he lives with a female friend and
grandchildren. He reported that he drives the children to
school daily and that the bus brings them back home.
[Plaintiff] stated that he stopped working in April 2008 at
Prince Georges [sic] County Schools due to back pain. He
stated that he underwent knee surgery and subsequently went
on disability. [Plaintiff] reported that he suffers from
gouty arthritis, which affects his elbows, knees, feet and
hands. He explained that his hands swell, and he experiences
tightness in the hands. [Plaintiff] reported that he has
problems with his feet, stating that his Achilles tendons
swell up. He reported that he was previously a heavy drinker,
and alleged he had not consumed alcohol in two to three
R. at 14; see R. at ...