United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
WILLIAM A. NELSON, III, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DIGIROLAMO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
William A. Nelson, III 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 Motion for Summary Judgment and alternative
motion for remand (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, Plaintiff's alternative motion for
remand (ECF No. 15) is GRANTED.
was born in 1966, has a ninth-grade education, and previously
worked as a cemetery worker. R. at 29, 46. Plaintiff
protectively filed applications for DIB and for SSI on May 8,
2013, alleging disability beginning on February 14, 2012, due
to a herniated disc in his neck and to back, shoulder, and
arm pain. R. at 17, 19. The Commissioner denied
Plaintiff's applications initially and again on
reconsideration, so Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). R. at 68-117,
122-30. On February 17, 2016, ALJ Francine L. Applewhite held
a hearing in Washington, D.C., at which Plaintiff and a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified. R. at 37-67.
On March 18, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled from the alleged onset date of
disability of February 14, 2012, through the date of the
decision. R. at 14-36. Plaintiff sought review of this
decision by the Appeals Council, which denied Plaintiff's
request for review on November 21, 2016. R. at 1-5, 9-13. 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).
January 20, 2017, 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:
[Plaintiff] alleges that he cannot lift more than 15 pounds;
cannot squat, climb, jump, or pull; can only bend forward a
little for approximately 15 seconds before he needs to stand
straight; can stand 20 minutes before needing to sit; and can
sit 45 minutes. He further alleges than his pain interferes
with his sleep and he spends most of his time in a recliner.
[Plaintiff] alleges that he does not cook on the stove
because he is limited in his ability to bend or stand.
According to [Plaintiff], his conditions affect his ability
to reach, kneel, and see. He alleges that he sometimes does
not follow spoken instructions well and his medications cause
drowsiness and forgetfulness. [Plaintiff] alleges to have
constant pain in his left leg. On appeal, [Plaintiff] alleges
to have difficulty caring for his personal needs, cooking,
cleaning. Driving, shopping, and handling his finances.
[Plaintiff] testified that he can sit for five to ten
minutes; can stand five minutes in one place[;] can walk one
block; and can lift a gallon of milk. According to
[Plaintiff], he is on oxygen and he believes his COPD is
getting worse. He alleges that he has shortness of breath and
wheezes a lot. [Plaintiff] testified that he stopped smoking
three months ago. According to [Plaintiff], he cannot do a
sedentary job because of pain, vision, and instability.
R. at 24 (citations omitted); see R. at 45-57.
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 could not perform Plaintiff's past relevant work
but could perform the unskilled, light jobs of router, office
helper, or counter clerk. R. at 61-62. A person ...