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Jeffery L. B. v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

February 12, 2019

JEFFERY L. B., 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 Jeffery B. 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 his application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and alternative motion for remand (ECF No. 17), Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 20), and Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 21).[2] 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.

         I

         Background

         On June 10, 2016, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Michael A. Krasnow held a hearing in Washington, D.C., where Plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. R. at 36-71. The ALJ thereafter found on July 29, 2016, that Plaintiff was not disabled from October 1, 2013, through December 31, 2014, the date last insured. R. at 17-35. In so finding, the ALJ found that, “[t]hrough the date last insured, [Plaintiff] did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.” R. at 23. The ALJ found:

Listing 1.04 was not met because the record does not demonstrate compromise of a nerve root (including the cauda equina) or the spinal cord with additional findings of: (A) evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, positive straight-leg raising or; (B) spinal arachnoiditis or; (C) lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication and the inability to ambulate effectively.

         R. at 23-24.

         The ALJ then found that, through the date last insured, Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)

to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he could occasionally climb ramps and stairs; could never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; could occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch; could never crawl; must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards including dangerous machinery and unprotected heights; could frequently reach overhead with the right upper extremity; and could frequently handle with the bilateral upper extremities.

         R. at 24. The ALJ determined that, although Plaintiff could not perform his past relevant work as a bus driver, he was capable through the date last insured of performing other work, such as a merchandise marker, assembler, or cafeteria attendant. R. at 29-30. Plaintiff thus was not disabled from October 1, 2013, through December 31, 2014, the date last insured. R. at 31.

         After the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, Plaintiff filed on August 21, 2017, 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

         Disability Determinations and Burden of Proof

         The Social Security Act defines a disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505, 416.905. A claimant has a disability when the claimant is “not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists . . ...


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