United States District Court, D. Maryland
August 29, 2016, Plaintiff Kimberly Ann Lockard petitioned
this Court to review the Social Security Administration's
final decision to deny her claims for Disability Insurance
Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. (ECF No. 1). I
have considered the parties' cross-motions for summary
judgment. (ECF Nos. 14, 19). 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.
Lockard's motion, grant the Commissioner's motion,
and affirm the Commissioner's judgment pursuant to
sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This letter
explains my rationale.
Lockard filed claims for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) on November 15, 2013, alleging a
disability onset date of December 15, 2012. (Tr. 196-210).
Her claims were denied initially and on reconsideration. (Tr.
112-19, 127-30). A hearing was held on July 9, 2015, before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Tr. 28-69).
Following the hearing, the ALJ determined that Ms. Lockard
was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security
Act during the relevant time frame. (Tr. 10-27). The Appeals
Council denied Ms. Lockard's request for review, (Tr.
1-6), so the ALJ's decision constitutes the final,
reviewable decision of the Agency.
found that Ms. Lockard suffered from the severe impairments
of “diabetes mellitus (DM), obesity, polyneuropathy,
bilateral hallux valgus deformity (bunions), mild
degenerative changes of the knees, degenerative disc disease
of the lumbar and thoracic spines, adhesive capsulitis of the
right shoulder with degenerative changes, and patellofemoral
arthrosis of the knees.” (Tr. 15). Despite these
impairments, the ALJ determined that Ms. Lockard retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to:
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b), except the claimant can perform work that does
not require climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds, or
crawling, but can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, stoop,
and crouch. She can frequently balance, and must avoid work
with concentrated exposure to unprotected heights or moving
(Tr. 17). After considering the testimony of a vocational
expert (“VE”), the ALJ determined that Ms.
Lockard could perform jobs existing in significant numbers in
the national economy and that, therefore, she was not
disabled. (Tr. 21-22).
Lockard's sole argument on appeal is that the ALJ failed
to include walking and standing limitations in her RFC
assessment. Pl. Mot. 7-8. Specifically, Ms. Lockard
contends that the absence of “any durational
limitations in the amount of time [she] can stand and or walk
in an 8-hour work day is clear error on the ALJ's
part.” Id. at 7. To support her assertion, Ms.
Lockard cites complaints of “leg pain, swelling,
tingling and numbness, ” and notes that her symptoms
“worsen with activity.” Id. However,
there is no requirement that every severe impairment
correlate with a particular restriction in the RFC
assessment. Carrier v. Astrue, No. SAG-10-3264, 2013
WL 136423, at *1 (D. Md. Jan. 9, 2013). A claimant's
burden of showing a severe impairment at step two is only a
“de minimis screening device used to dispose
of groundless claims.” Taylor v. Astrue, No.
BPG-11-032, 2012 WL 294532, at *8 (D. Md. Jan. 31, 2012)
(quoting Webb v. Barnhart, 433 F.3d 683, 687 (9th
Cir. 2005)). Accordingly, any doubt or ambiguity in the
evidence at step two should be resolved in the claimant's
favor, and the ALJ should continue with the sequential
evaluation. SSR 85-28. While there is no requirement that
each impairment correlate with particular restrictions, the
ALJ's findings of the claimant's limitations must be
supported by substantial evidence. Carrier, 2013 WL
136423 at *1.
instant case, the ALJ noted Ms. Lockard's allegations and
reviewed the medical evidence of record, but found that
“her testimony regarding significant limitations in
standing…and walking [were] not credible in light of
the clinical signs and diagnostic studies.” (Tr. 20).
Specifically, the ALJ noted “unremarkable”
findings on objective medical tests of Ms. Lockard's
lower extremities, (Tr. 17-19), including
“normal” functioning of the “ankle brachial
indices, ” (Tr. 18), “normal gait, ” (Tr.
19), “mild sensory peripheral polyneuropathy, ”
id., “stable ligamentous testing, ”
id., “normal” foot screening,
id., “okay” heel and toe strength, (Tr.
20), and a “negative” straight leg raise test,
id. In addition, the ALJ noted that the medical
record showed no evidence of “deep vein thrombosis,
” (Tr. 18), no “problems with edema, ” (Tr.
19), “no weakness in the tibial motor nerve, ”
id., “no effusion in the knees, ”
id., and “no symptoms in the distribution of
the peripheral nerve root, ” id. Moreover, the
ALJ noted that Ms. Lockard “denied gait or new
neurological symptoms, ” (Tr. 18-19), conceded that her
symptoms were “stable, ” (Tr. 18) (citing (Tr.
420)), and contradicted her allegations of pain in medical
appointments, (Tr. 19). Furthermore, the ALJ cited the State
consultants' determination that Ms. Lockard's
allegations regarding her limitations in standing and walking
were “not supported by the evidence, ” (Tr. 96),
and that she was able to perform her “past relevant
work as [a] cashier, ” (Tr. 86), which requires
considerable standing and walking consistent with light work.
See SSR 83-10 (noting that the “full range of
light work requires standing or walking, off and on, for a
total of approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour workday.”).
my review of the ALJ's decision is confined to whether
substantial evidence, in the record as it was reviewed by the
ALJ, supports the decision and whether correct legal
standards were applied. See Richardson v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, 390, 404 (1971). Even if there is other
evidence that may support Ms. Lockard's position, I am
not permitted to reweigh the evidence or to substitute my own
judgment for that of the ALJ. See Hays v. Sullivan,
907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990). Accordingly, the ALJ
provided substantial evidence to support his conclusion that
Ms. Lockard's standing and walking limitations did not
warrant corresponding restrictions in the RFC assessment.
Remand on this basis is therefore unwarranted.
reasons set forth herein, Ms. Lockard's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14) is DENIED and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 19) is GRANTED. The
Commissioner's judgment is AFFIRMED pursuant to sentence
four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Clerk is directed to
CLOSE this case.
the informal nature of this letter, it should be flagged as
an opinion and docketed as an order.
STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER, UNITED ...