United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge.
Rhonda Rae S. 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 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. 14),
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15), and
Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 18). 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. 14) is GRANTED.
February 3, 2015, Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Francine L. Applewhite held a hearing in
Baltimore, Maryland, where Plaintiff and a vocational expert
(“VE”) testified. R. at 65-91. The ALJ thereafter
found on May 5, 2015, that Plaintiff was not disabled from
her alleged onset date of disability of September 10, 2010,
through the date of the ALJ's decision. R. at 14-33. In
so finding, the ALJ found that, with regard to concentration,
persistence, or pace, Plaintiff had moderate difficulties. R.
[Plaintiff] testified and reported memory and concentration
difficulties. [Plaintiff] testified that she experiences
sleep disturbances and has poor concentration. However,
[Plaintiff] testified that she has looked for jobs but has
been unsuccessful, and that she should be able to follow
simple instructions. In addition, she retains sufficient
concentration to drive, handle finances and perform her
current household tasks. Overall, the impairment in
concentration, persistence or pace is not more than moderate.
R. at 20 (citation omitted).
then found that Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) “to perform a full range
of work at all exertional levels but with the following
nonexertional limitations: work in a low stress job defined
as occasional decision-making and occasional interaction with
the public, co-workers or supervisors.” R. at 21. In
light of this RFC and the VE's testimony, the ALJ found
that, although Plaintiff could not perform her past relevant
work as an acoustical carpenter, construction worker, and
delivery route truck driver, she was capable of performing
other work, such as a mail sorter or addresser. R. at 24-25.
Plaintiff thus was not disabled from September 10, 2010,
through May 5, 2015. R. at 26.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, Plaintiff filed on February 19, 2018, 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.
Determinations and Burden of Proof
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 ...