United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge.
Jason Kane 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. 17) and Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 21). 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. 17) is GRANTED.
1977, Plaintiff has a high-school education and previously
worked as an electrician helper. R. at 62-63. Plaintiff filed
applications for DIB on April 1, 2013, and for SSI on March
31, 2013, alleging disability beginning on January 1, 1996
(later amended to June 2, 2011), due to bipolar disorder,
schizoaffective disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity
disorder. R. at 51, 238-48, 273, 292. The Commissioner denied
Plaintiff's applications initially and again on
reconsideration, so Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). R. at 114-71,
174-81. On November 24, 2015, ALJ F.H. Ayer held a hearing in
Washington, D.C., where Plaintiff, his sister, and a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified. R. at 72-113.
On December 23, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled from June 2, 2011, through the date of
the decision. R. at 46-71. Plaintiff sought review of this
decision by the Appeals Council, which denied Plaintiff's
request for review on February 7, 2017. R. at 1-45, 356-66.
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).
April 9, 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 then was reassigned to the undersigned.
The parties have briefed the issues, and the matter is now
Summary of Evidence
reviewed Plaintiff's testimony in his decision:
In [Plaintiff's] application for disability benefits, he
alleged the following conditions limit his ability to work[:]
bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder. At the hearing, [Plaintiff]
has alleged suffering from a mental disorder, including
symptoms of paranoia. He did not think he could work on a
fulltime basis because of his racing thoughts, auditory
hallucinations, cries a lot, is tired all the time, and
constantly talks to himself. He also testified his
medications put his head in a fog and he has difficulty
concentrating and becomes distracted. He is not motivated to
perform household chores and showers once or twice a month.
[Plaintiff] cannot tolerate being around people and is very
confrontational with other people, especially when at work.
R. at 58; see R. at 75-79, 80, 81, 87-106.
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
but could perform the unskilled jobs of laundry worker,
vehicle cleaner, or night cleaner. R. at 82-83. An individual
off task more than 10% of the time or who would miss more
than one day per month at work on a regular basis would be
unable to maintain full-time work, however. R. at 83-84.
There would be no work available to an individual unable to
perform simple, one- to four-step, routine, repetitive tasks.
R. at 84-85. With the exception of his testimony regarding
productivity, absenteeism, and four-step tasks, the VE's
testimony was consistent with the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (the “DOT”). R. at 84-85.
Summary of ALJ's Decision
December 23, 2015, the ALJ found that Plaintiff (1) had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since the amended
alleged onset date of disability of June 2, 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 unable to perform his past
relevant work; but (5) could perform other work in the
national economy, such as a laundry worker, vehicle cleaner,
or night cleaner. R. at 54-64. The ALJ thus found that he was
not disabled from June 2, 2011, through the date of the
decision. R. at 64.
finding, the ALJ found that, with regard to concentration,
persistence, or pace, Plaintiff had moderate difficulties. R.
At the hearing, [Plaintiff] testified he has racing thoughts,
difficulty concentrating, is easily distracted, and is tired
all the time[;] medication side effects may have contributed
to these symptoms. He also testified to extreme paranoia,
also documented in his medical records from 2013, but in
April, these symptoms were far less intense. His most recent
medical records in evidence from October indicate his
concentration, attention, and focus were decreased. Both
State Agency Medical Consultants believed [Plaintiff] had
moderate difficulties maintaining concentration, ...