United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DIGIROLAMO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Thomas J., II 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.
14) 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 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. 14) is GRANTED.
November 30, 2016, Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Mary C. Peltzer held a hearing where
Plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”)
testified. R. at 37-75. The ALJ thereafter found on March 8,
2017, that Plaintiff was not disabled from the alleged onset
date of disability of October 11, 2012, through December 31,
2015, the date last insured. R. at 16-36. In so finding, the
ALJ found that, through the date last insured, Plaintiff had
moderate limitation in concentrating, persisting, or
maintaining pace. R. at 22. The ALJ then found that, through
the date last insured, Plaintiff had the residual functional
to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a)
except: no pushing or pulling with the left lower extremity;
occasional stairs and ramps; no ladders, ropes, or scaffolds;
occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, and crouching; no
crawling; no reaching overhead with the left upper extremity;
frequent handling and fingering; occasional exposure to
extreme cold, vibration, and workplace hazards such as
dangerous moving machinery; no exposure to unprotected
heights; tasks are performed in a static work environment
where changes in task are infrequent and explained when they
R. at 23. The ALJ determined that, although Plaintiff could
not perform his past relevant work as a parking attendant and
truck driver, he was capable through the date last insured of
performing other work, such as an order clerk, charge account
clerk, or document preparer. R. at 29-30. Plaintiff thus was
not disabled from October 11, 2012, through December 31,
2015, the date last insured. R. at 31.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, Plaintiff filed on November 13, 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.
Disability Determinations and Burden of
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 . . . in
significant numbers either in the region where such
individual lives or in several regions of the country.”
42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(B).
determine whether a claimant has a disability within the
meaning of the Social Security Act, the Commissioner follows
a five-step sequential evaluation process outlined in the
regulations. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920;
see Barnhart v. Thomas, 540 U.S. 20, 24-25, 124
S.Ct. 376, 379-80 (2003). “If at any step a finding of
disability or nondisability can be made, the [Commissioner]
will not review the claim further.” Thomas,
540 U.S. at 24, 124 S.Ct. at 379; see 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). The claimant has
the burden of production and proof at steps one through four.
See Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5, 107
S.Ct. 2287, 2294 n.5 (1987); Radford v. Colvin, 734
F.3d 288, 291 (4th Cir. 2013).
the Commissioner will consider a claimant's work
activity. If the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity, then the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i).
if the claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful
activity, the Commissioner looks to see whether the claimant
has a “severe” impairment, i.e., an impairment or
combination of impairments that significantly limits the
claimant's physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities. Pass v. Chater, 65 F.3d 1200, 1203 (4th
Cir. 1995); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c),
404.1521(a), 416.920(c), 416.921(a).
if the claimant has a severe impairment, then the
Commissioner will consider the medical severity of the
impairment. If the impairment meets or equals one of the
presumptively disabling impairments listed in the
regulations, then the claimant is considered disabled,
regardless of age, education, and work experience. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 404.1520(d),
416.920(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(d); see Radford, 734
F.3d at 293.
if the claimant's impairment is severe, but it does not
meet or equal one of the presumptively disabling impairments,
then the Commissioner will assess the claimant's RFC to
determine the claimant's “ability to meet the
physical, mental, sensory, and other requirements” of
the claimant's past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 404.1545(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4)(iv),
416.945(a)(4). RFC is a measurement of the most a claimant
can do despite his or her limitations. Hines v.
Barnhart, 453 F.3d 559, 562 (4th Cir. 2006);
see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a)(1),
416.945(a)(1). The claimant is responsible for providing
evidence the Commissioner will use to make a finding as to
the claimant's RFC, but the Commissioner is responsible
for developing the claimant's “complete medical
history, including arranging for a consultative
examination(s) if necessary, and making every reasonable
effort to help [the claimant] get medical reports from [the
claimant's] own medical sources.” 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1545(a)(3), ...