United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DiGirolamo, United States Magistrate Judge
Tiffany M. 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 her 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 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.
April 14, 2017, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Theodore W. Annos held a hearing where Plaintiff and a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified. R. at 30-54.
The ALJ thereafter found on June 1, 2017, that Plaintiff was
not disabled from the alleged onset date of disability of
April 13, 2014, through the date of the ALJ's decision.
R. at 11-29. In so finding, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a)
except she can never crawl or climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and
climb ramps or stairs; occasionally push and pull with the
upper and lower extremities; occasionally reach overhead and
frequently reach in all other directions; occasional exposure
to vibration and work hazards (such as unprotected heights,
moving mechanical parts and motor vehicles); must work in a
moderate noise intensity level or quieter and where the
levels of illumination are no brighter than that found in a
typical office setting; and requires the use of a cane.
R. at 18. In light of this RFC and the VE's testimony,
the ALJ determined that, although Plaintiff could not perform
her past relevant work as a photo technician, shampoo girl,
and cashier, she was capable of performing other work, such
as an order clerk or telephone quotation clerk. R at 23-24.
The ALJ thus found that Plaintiff was not disabled from April
13, 2014, through June 1, 2017. R. at 24.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, Plaintiff filed on June 14, 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 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 ...