United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge
Olivia Waggy 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 (ECF No. 16) 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 she is not disabled. No.
hearing is necessary. L.R. 105.6. For the reasons that
follow, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
19) is GRANTED, Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 16) is DENIED, and
the Commissioner's final decision is
1955, Plaintiff has a high-school education and previously
worked as a deli clerk and kitchen helper. R. at 24, 40-41.
On November 18, 2011, Plaintiff protectively filed an
application for DIB, alleging disability beginning on January
4, 2008, due to a learning disability, high blood pressure,
and depression. R. at 102, 254-55, 285, 289. The Commissioner
denied Plaintiff's application initially and again on
reconsideration, so Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). R. at 83-98,
124-32. On March 10, 2014, ALJ Alma S. de Leon held a hearing
at which Plaintiff pro se and a vocational expert
(“VE”) testified. R. at 33-60. Plaintiff at the
hearing amended her alleged onset date of disability to March
21, 2011. R. at 179-80. On March 13, 2014, the ALJ issued a
decision finding Plaintiff not disabled from March 21, 2011,
through the date of the decision. R. at 99-117. On February
2, 2016, the Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's request
for review, vacated the ALJ's decision, and remanded the
case for further proceedings. R. at 118-23.
November 7, 2016, ALJ Nicolas R. Foster held a supplemental
hearing at which another VE and Plaintiff, now represented by
counsel, testified. R. at 61-82. On January 13, 2017, the ALJ
issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled from March
21, 2011, through the date last insured of June 30, 2015. R.
at 10-31. Plaintiff sought review of this decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied Plaintiff's request for
review on June 3, 2017. R. at 1-5, 252-53. 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).
August 3, 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.
Summary of Evidence
Court reviews here and in Part VI below the relevant
reviewed Plaintiff's testimony in his decision:
[Plaintiff] alleges disability secondary to diagnoses of
depression, an anxiety disorder and borderline intellectual
functioning. [Plaintiff] indicated that her impairments
affect her memory, concentration and understanding as well as
her ability to complete tasks and get along with others. She
testified that she has difficulty reading and that she gets
frustrated writing letters or a journal due to her alleged
memory issues. She also noted that she has difficulty with
spelling. She indicated that she has some issues with
concentrating and that she will occasionally fall asleep
while doing tasks. Finally, [Plaintiff] indicated that she
has been prescribed multiple medications to treat her
impairments and that they have caused side effects such as
R. at 20. Plaintiff also testified that she stopped working
on March 21, 2011, because her employer went out of business.
R. at 66, 67-68.
testified that an individual limited to the full range of
medium, unskilled work could perform Plaintiff's past
work as a deli clerk and kitchen helper. R. at 64-65, 79.
Plaintiff's past job as a deli clerk would be available
to an individual limited to the full range of light,
unskilled work. R. at 80. According to the VE, his
testimony was consistent with the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles. R. at 80.
Summary of ALJ's Decision
January 13, 2017, the ALJ found that, through the date last
insured of June 30, 2015, Plaintiff (1) had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of
disability of March 21, 2011; and (2) had an impairment or a
combination of impairments considered to be
“severe” on the basis of the requirements in the
Code of Federal Regulations; but (3) did not have an
impairment or a combination of impairments meeting or
equaling one of the impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. pt.
404, subpt. P, app. 1; and (4) was able to perform her past
relevant work as a deli ...