United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge
Gerald Holmes 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 for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act. Before the Court are
Plaintiff's corrected Motion for Summary Judgment and
alternative motion for remand (ECF No. 18) 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, Plaintiff's alternative motion for remand (ECF
No. 18) is GRANTED.
was born in 1967, has an eleventh-grade education, and
previously worked as a groundskeeper, preparation cook, cook,
and carpenter helper. R. at 46, 48, 73. Plaintiff
protectively filed applications for DIB and for SSI on
September 7, 2012, alleging disability beginning on February
1, 2008 (later amended to January 25, 2013), due to arthritis
and knee and back injury. R. at 26, 240. The Commissioner
denied Plaintiff's applications initially and again on
reconsideration, so Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). R. at 81-119,
122-26. On March 3, 2015, ALJ L. Rogall held a hearing in
Washington, D.C., at which Plaintiff and a vocational expert
(“VE”) testified. R. at 38-80. On June 2, 2015,
the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled from
the amended alleged onset date of disability of January 25,
2013, through the date of the decision. R. at 23-37.
Plaintiff sought review of this decision by the Appeals
Council, which denied Plaintiff's request for review on
September 6, 2016. R. at 1-10. 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
November 8, 2016, 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.
reviewed Plaintiff's testimony in her decision:
Function Report dated June 4, 2013, [Plaintiff] alleged
severe pain and loss of function due to ankle fracture in
February 2013. He denied problems with personal care, but
endorsed problems with lifting, squatting, bending, standing,
walking, climbing stairs, and completing tasks. At the
hearing, [Plaintiff] additionally testified that his
bilateral knee pain limits his activities and ability to
work. He requires the use of a cane to maintain balance while
walking, and sometimes has difficulty sleeping due to pain.
[Plaintiff] testified that he may need surgery on his knees,
as well as his left ankle.
29 (citation omitted); see R. at 46-71; 257-64.
testified that a hypothetical individual with Plaintiff's
same age, education, and work experience with the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) outlined below in
Part III (with the exception of never operating foot controls
bilaterally) could not perform Plaintiff's past relevant
work but could perform the unskilled, sedentary jobs of
machine tender, inspector, or bench worker. R. at 74-75. An
individual would not be employable if he could only work six
hours a day as a result of his medication and impairments. R.
at 76. A person could not perform any substantial gainful
activity if absent from work two or more times a month. R. at
76. A person “off ...