United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DIGIROLAMO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Peggy W. 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 application for
Supplemental Security Income under Title XVI 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 17, 2017, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Brian B. Rippel held a hearing in Charlottesville, Virginia,
where Plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”)
testified. R. at 28-57. The ALJ thereafter found on July 18,
2017, that Plaintiff was not disabled since the application
date of July 31, 2014. R. at 9-27. In so finding, the ALJ
found that, with regard to concentrating, persisting, or
maintaining pace, Plaintiff had moderate difficulties. R. at
[Plaintiff] told Dr. Johnson [a consultative examiner] that
she has problems with her memory and concentration. However,
Dr. Johnson observed that [Plaintiff's] thought processes
appeared logical and coherent, and her thought content was
appropriate. Her recent and remote memory appeared
satisfactory. Dr. Dhir [another consultative examiner] noted
[Plaintiff's] complaints that she spends her day limited
by pain and generally just watching television. She cares for
her own personal needs and bathes. She can make simple meals.
She goes to church regularly. She is able to understand and
follow simple instructions independently.
17 (citations omitted).
then found that Plaintiff had the residual functional
to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a)
except: sit-stand option alternating every 20 to 30 minutes
while staying on task at the work station; only occasional
climbing ramps or stairs, balancing, stooping, kneeling,
crouching, crawling; no climbing ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; only occasional exposure [to] workplace hazards
(including unprotected heights and hazardous machinery);
simple, routine tasks, in entry level, unskilled work; in a
low stress job (defined as only occasional independent
decision making and changes in the work setting); only
occasional interaction with [the] public, co-workers, [or]
In light of this RFC and the VE's testimony, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff could perform work in the national
economy such as a sorter/grader, packer/stacker, or
assembler. R. at 22. Plaintiff thus was not disabled since
the application date of July 31, 2014. R. at 23.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, Plaintiff filed on June 26, 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 ...