United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
CHARLES B. DAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Gray (“Plaintiff”) brought this action under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner”). Commissioner
denied Plaintiff's claim for a period of Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the
Social Security Act and for Supplemental Security Income
Benefits (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act. Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment (“Plaintiff's Motion”) (ECF
No. 14) and Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Commissioner's Motion”) (ECF No. 20). The
Court has reviewed the motions, related memoranda, and the
applicable law. No. hearing is deemed necessary. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.). For the reasons presented below,
the Court hereby DENIES Plaintiff's
Motion and GRANTS Commissioner's Motion.
August 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed for DIB and SSI, alleging
disability beginning March 1, 2011. R. 20. Plaintiff alleged
disability due to diabetes, high blood pressure, high
cholesterol, and his “bad legs and back.” R. 179.
An administrative hearing was held on February 22, 2016,
during which Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date to
August 20, 2013. On April 22, 2016, the claim was denied. R.
34. Plaintiff sought review by the Appeals Council, which
concluded on March 24, 2017 that there was no basis for
granting the Request for Review. R. 1.
Standard of Review
appeal, the Court has the power to affirm, modify, or reverse
the decision of the ALJ “with or without remanding the
cause for a rehearing.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2015).
The Court must affirm the ALJ's decision if it is
supported by substantial evidence and the ALJ applied the
correct law. Id. (“The findings of the
Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported
by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.”);
see also Russell v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 440
Fed.Appx. 163, 164 (4th Cir. 2011) (citing Hays v.
Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990)).
“In other words, if the ALJ has done his or her job
correctly and supported the decision reached with substantial
evidence, this Court cannot overturn the decision, even if it
would have reached a contrary result on the same
evidence.” Schoofield v. Barnhart, 220
F.Supp.2d 512, 515 (D. Md. 2002). Substantial evidence is
“more than a mere scintilla.” Russell,
440 F. App'x, at 164. “It means such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Id. (citing
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971));
see also Hays, 907 F.2d, at 1456 (quoting Laws
v. Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir. 1966))
(internal quotation marks omitted) (“It consists of
more than a mere scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat
less than a preponderance. If there is evidence to justify a
refusal to direct a verdict were the case before a jury, then
there is substantial evidence.”).
Court does not review the evidence presented below de
novo, nor does the Court “determine the weight of
the evidence” or “substitute its judgment for
that of the Secretary if his decision is supported by
substantial evidence.” Hays, 907 F.2d at 1456
(citations omitted); see also Blalock v. Richardson,
483 F.2d 773, 775 (4th Cir. 1972) (“[T]he language of
§ 205(g) precludes a de novo judicial
proceeding and requires that the court uphold the
Secretary's decision even should the court disagree with
such decision as long as it is supported by
‘substantial evidence.'”). The ALJ, not the
Court, has the responsibility to make findings of fact and
resolve evidentiary conflicts. Hays, 907 F.2d, at
1456 (citations omitted). If the ALJ's factual finding,
however, “was reached by means of an improper standard
or misapplication of the law, ” then that finding is
not binding on the Court. Coffman v. Bowen, 829 F.2d
514, 517 (4th Cir. 1987) (citations omitted).
Court shall find a person legally disabled under Title II and
Title XVI if he is unable “to do any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result
in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a
continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a) (2012). The Code
of Federal Regulations outlines a five-step process that the
Commissioner must follow to determine if a claimant meets
1) Determine whether the plaintiff is “doing
substantial gainful activity.” 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i) (2012). If he is doing
such activity, he is not disabled. If he is not doing such
activity, proceed to step two.
2) Determine whether the plaintiff has a “severe
medically determinable physical or mental impairment that
meets the duration requirement in § [404.1509/416.909],
or a combination of impairments that is severe and meets the
duration requirement.” 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii) (2012). If he does not
have such impairment or combination of impairments, he is not
disabled. If he does meet these requirements, proceed to step
3) Determine whether the plaintiff has an impairment that
“meets or equals one of [the C.F.R.'s] listings in
appendix 1 of this subpart and meets the duration
requirement.” 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii) (2012). If he does
have such impairment, he is disabled. If he does not, proceed
to step four.
4) Determine whether the plaintiff retains the
“residual functional capacity”
(“RFC”) to perform “past relevant
work.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv),
416.920(a)(4)(iv) (2012). If he can perform such work, he is
not disabled. If he cannot, proceed to step five.
5) Determine whether the plaintiff can perform other work,
considering his RFC, age, education, and work experience. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 416.920(a)(4)(v)
(2012). If he can perform other work, he is not disabled. If
he cannot, he is disabled.
has the burden to prove that he is disabled at steps one
through four, and Commissioner has the burden to prove that
Plaintiff is not disabled at step five. Hu ...