United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge.
Cynthia Thomas 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 and alternative
motion for remand (ECF No. 15) and Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 18). 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, Plaintiff's alternative motion for
remand (ECF No. 15) is GRANTED.
was born in 1963, has a high-school education, and previously
worked as an after-school teaching assistant. R. at 42-43,
66. Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB on
October 3, 2008, alleging disability beginning on June 1,
2005, due to depression, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, a
lumbar spine impairment, severe low back pain, hypertensive
cardiovascular disease, and brittle diabetes. R. at 363-64,
401. The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application
initially and again on reconsideration, so Plaintiff
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). R. at 179-87. On February 15, 2011, ALJ
Eugene Bond held a hearing at which Plaintiff and a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified. R. at 99-122.
On April 8, 2011, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff
not disabled from the alleged onset date of disability of
June 1, 2005, through the date last insured of December 31,
2010. R. at 125-40. Plaintiff sought review of this decision
by the Appeals Council, which granted Plaintiff's request
for review, reversed the ALJ's decision, and remanded the
case for further proceedings on September 5, 2012. R. at
supplemental hearing was held on August 16, 2013. R. at
74-98. The ALJ again denied Plaintiff's claim in a
decision dated September 5, 2013. R. at 146-69. Plaintiff
again sought review by the Appeals Council, which granted
Plaintiff's request for review, reversed the ALJ's
decision, and remanded the case for further proceedings on
November 26, 2014. R. at 170-74.
second supplemental hearing was held before ALJ Thomas Mercer
Ray on March 9, 2015, at which Plaintiff, her husband, and a
VE testified. R. at 38-73. On June 17, 2015, the ALJ issued a
decision finding Plaintiff not disabled from the alleged
onset date of disability of June 1, 2005, through the date
last insured of December 31, 2010. R. at 14-37. Plaintiff
again sought review by the Appeals Council, which denied
Plaintiff's request for review on July 27, 2016. R. at
4-8. 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).
November 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court
seeking review of the Commissioner's final decision.
After the parties consented, this case was transferred to a
United States Magistrate Judge for final disposition and
entry of judgment. The case then was reassigned to the
undersigned. The parties have briefed the issues, and the
matter is now fully submitted.
summarized Plaintiff's testimony in his decision:
[Plaintiff] alleges disabling limitations due to depression,
sleep apnea, high blood pressure, cholesterol, lumbar spine
impairment, severe back pain, hypertensive cardiovascular
disease, hypertension, and brittle diabetes impairment. She
testified that she stopped working because she found herself
very tired throughout the day. She stated that she was then
diagnosed with sleep apnea, and received a CPAP machine.
[Plaintiff] stated that she could not cook, do laundry, or
drive, and it hurt to stand or bend over. She testified that
her husband does the laundry, prepares meals, and sometimes
takes off work to take her places. [Plaintiff] stated that
she lives in a three-floor home and has to go up one flight
of stairs to her bedroom. She stated that her condition has
gotten worse over time.
R. at 23 (citation omitted); see R. at 42-50.
testified that a hypothetical individual with the same age,
education, and work experience as Plaintiff and with the
residual functional capacity (“RFC') outlined below
in Part III could not perform Plaintiff's past work as an
after-school teaching assistant but could work as an
inspector, mail clerk, or garment folder. R. at 66-70.