United States District Court, D. Maryland
Commissioner, Social Security Administration;
STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff and Counsel:
September 27, 2018, Plaintiff Young R., who appears pro
se, petitioned this Court to review the Social Security
Administration's (“SSA's”) final decision
to deny her claim for Disability Insurance Benefits. ECF 1.
Plaintiff did not file a motion for summary judgment before
the filing deadline, but I have considered the SSA's
motion for summary judgment. ECF 17. I find that no hearing is
necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). This
Court must uphold the decision of the SSA if it is supported
by substantial evidence and if the SSA employed proper legal
standards. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3); Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th
Cir. 1996). Under that standard, I will grant the SSA's
motion, and affirm the SSA's judgment pursuant to
sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This letter
explains my rationale.
protectively filed her claim for benefits on June 3, 2016,
alleging a disability onset date of June 1, 2010. Tr. 101-07.
Her date last insured was calculated to be December 31, 2013,
meaning that she had to prove disability between June, 2010
and December, 2013 to be eligible to receive benefits. Tr.
108. Her claims were denied initially and on reconsideration.
Tr. 70-72, 74-75. An Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) held a hearing on January 25, 2018, at
which Plaintiff was informed of her right to representation,
but declined. Tr. 27-56. Following that hearing, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning
of the Social Security Act during the relevant time frame.
Tr. 19-26. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review, Tr. 1-5, so the ALJ's decision constitutes
the final, reviewable decision of the SSA.
carefully reviewed the ALJ's opinion and the entire
record. See Elam v. Barnhart, 386 F.Supp.2d 746, 753
(E.D. Tex. 2005) (mapping an analytical framework for
judicial review of a pro se action challenging an
adverse administrative decision, including: (1) examining
whether the SSA's decision generally comports with
regulations, (2) reviewing the ALJ's critical findings
for compliance with the law, and (3) determining from the
evidentiary record whether substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's findings). For the reasons set forth below, the ALJ
applied the correct legal standards and supported her
conclusions with substantial evidence.
proceeded in accordance with applicable law, using the
appropriate sequential evaluation. The ALJ found in
Plaintiff's favor at step one, that Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity between her alleged
onset date of June 2, 2010, and her date last insured. Tr.
21. However, at step two, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff
had not established the existence of any medically
determinable impairments during the relevant period. Tr.
my review of the ALJ's decision is confined to whether
substantial evidence, in the record as it was reviewed by the
ALJ, supports the decision and whether correct legal
standards were applied. Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 390 (1971). Even if there is other evidence that
may support Plaintiff's position, I am not permitted to
reweigh the evidence or to substitute my own judgment for
that of the ALJ. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453,
1456 (4th Cir. 1990). In considering the entire record, I
find that the ALJ supported her decision with substantial
evidence. The existence of a medically determinable
impairment must be supported by medical signs and laboratory
findings. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1521,
404.1529; see also SSR 16-3p, 2017 WL 5180304
(S.S.A. Oct. 25, 2017). Here, the ALJ correctly noted the
complete absence of any medical records, during the relevant
period prior to the date last insured, to substantiate
ongoing medical impairments. Tr. 21-22. In fact, the only
medical records predating the date last insured were records
from emergency room treatment on one occasion in March, 2010,
months before Plaintiff's alleged onset date. Tr. 202-23.
Those records indicate treatment for pneumonia and asthma,
and same-day discharge. Id. Plaintiff then sought no
further medical treatment until 2016. Without any medical
records to substantiate the existence of the medical
conditions alleged by Plaintiff during the relevant time
frame, this Court has no basis to remand the decision to the
reasons set forth herein, Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment, ECF 17, is GRANTED. The SSA's judgment is
AFFIRMED pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). The Clerk is directed to CLOSE this case.
the informal nature of this letter, it should be flagged as
an opinion. An implementing order follows.
 After the SSA filed its motion, the
Clerk's Office sent a Rule 12/56 letter to Plaintiff,
advising her of the potential consequences of failing to
oppose the dispositive motion. ECF 18. ...