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Wakefield v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

September 26, 2018

DIANNE WAKEFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.[1]

          MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND

          Thomas M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Dianne Wakefield 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 her applications for disability insurance benefits and for Supplemental Security Income 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. 16) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 19).[2] 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, Plaintiff's alternative motion for remand (ECF No. 16) is GRANTED.

         I

         Background

         On February 22, 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 fully submitted.

         II

         Summary of Evidence

         A. Plaintiff's Testimony

         In his October 13, 2015, decision, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Eugene Bond reviewed Plaintiff's testimony from the hearing on June 25, 2015, where Plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified:

[Plaintiff] alleges disabling limitations due to panic, anxiety attacks, COPD, depression, high blood pressure, and vertigo. [Plaintiff] testified that she stopped working because she was terminated. She stated that she does not know why she was terminated. She stated that she has not looked for other work because she is ill. She stated that she can stand for ten minutes at a time. She testified that she stopped driving one year ago, but she stopped because her neck “really really bothers” her. She reported daily neck pain radiating throughout her arms and legs, worse in her right arm. [Plaintiff] stated that she has low back pain. She reported that her daughter lives with her; her daughter and sister do grocery shopping and she receives rides to doctor's appointments. On a typical day, she wakes up in pain, takes her prescribed medications, and lies in her bed. [Plaintiff] stated that she takes medication for depression and anxiety. She reported medication side effects including sleepiness and drowsiness. [Plaintiff's] representative added that [Plaintiff] uses a cane for ambulation.

R. at 17 (citation omitted).

         B. VE Testimony

         The VE 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 perform Plaintiff's past relevant work as a group home manager and mental health worker. R. at 68-69. Being off task up to 20% of a day would preclude all work, however. R. at 69. A person absent for two days per week could not perform any work on a full-time basis. R. at 69. According to the VE, his testimony was consistent with the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.[3] R. at 69-70.

         III

         Summary of ALJ's Decision

         On October 13, 2015, the ALJ found that Plaintiff (1) had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the amended alleged onset date of July 11, 2009; 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) could perform her past relevant work as a group home manager and mental ...


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