United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge
Timothy H. 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 his 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. 12) 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. 12) is GRANTED.
February 13, 2017, Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Kerith Cohen held a hearing where
Plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”)
testified. R. at 38-66. The ALJ thereafter found on April 5,
2017, that Plaintiff was not disabled from his alleged onset
date of disability of February 1, 2014, through the date of
the ALJ's decision. R. at 11-31. In so finding, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff had moderate limitation in
concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace. R. at 18.
[Plaintiff] alleges difficulty concentrating, and some of his
mental status exams show that he has poor
concentration/attention span. Other mental status exams,
however, show that he has fair concentration/attention span
and intact cognitive function. [Plaintiff's] activities
have also involved concentrating, persisting, or maintaining
pace. Records indicate that he reads, practices music, does
household chores, handles money, and can care for his
personal needs without problem.
R. at 18 (citations omitted).
The ALJ then found that Plaintiff had the residual functional
to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and
416.967(c) with the following limitations: He can
occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and/or scaffolds. He must
avoid extreme heat, extreme cold, humidity, fumes, odors,
dusts, gases, and poor ventilation. He can understand,
remember, and apply information sufficiently to perform
simple tasks. He can maintain concentration, [persistence],
and pace sufficiently to perform simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks. He is able to adapt and manage himself
sufficiently to make simple decisions and occasionally
exercise independent judgment skills. His work should be
performed largely isolated from the general public, working
with things rather than people, and involve no tandem tasks
or teamwork with coworkers. He can tolerate occasional
interaction with supervisors while performing work tasks. R.
at 19. In light of this RFC and the VE's
testimony, the ALJ found that, although he could not perform
his past relevant work as a baker, Plaintiff could perform
other work, such as an order picker or office cleaner. R at
26-27. The ALJ thus found that Plaintiff was not disabled
from February 1, 2014, through April 5, 2017. R. at 27.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, Plaintiff filed on June 7, 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 ...