Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Travis X. C. v. Saul

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

September 20, 2019

TRAVIS X. C., Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Defendant.[1]

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Travis X. C. seeks judicial review of a final decision of Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”), finding him not disabled and denying his application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. ECF No. 1. Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 12, [2] and the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 16, which were referred to U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. DiGirolamo pursuant to Standing Order 2014-01. The Court has reviewed Judge DiGirolamo's June 7, 2019 Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), ECF No. 19, the Commissioner's objections, ECF No. 21, and Plaintiff's response, ECF No. 22. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.). For the reasons that follow, the R&R is adopted in part and rejected in part, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is denied, the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment is denied, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Disability Determination Framework

         A person is legally disabled if he is unable “to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a). The relevant Social Security Administration regulations set forth a comprehensive five-step process for making a disability determination:

[T]he ALJ asks at step one whether the claimant has been working; at step two, whether the claimant's medical impairments meet the regulations' severity and duration requirements; at step three, whether the medical impairments meet or equal an impairment listed in the regulations; at step four, whether the claimant can perform [his] past work given the limitations caused by [his] medical impairments; and at step five, whether the claimant can perform other work.

Mascio v. Colvin, 780 F.3d 632, 634 (4th Cir. 2015). Before proceeding to steps four and five to determine whether the claimant can perform any work, the ALJ must assess the claimant's residual functional capacity (“RFC”), which is the most the claimant can still do despite the limitations affecting his ability to work. See Lewis v. Berryhill, 858 F.3d 858, 861-62 (4th Cir. 2017) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a)(1), 416.945(a)(1)). The claimant bears the burden of proof during the first four steps, but the burden shifts to the Commissioner at step five. Id. at 861.

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) on June 30, 2010. ECF No. 7-3 at 10.[3] He alleged that he had been disabled since September 15, 2008, due to a stroke, hypertension, depression, panic attacks, and degenerative disc disease in his back, neck, and shoulder. ECF No. 7-4 at 2, 13; ECF No. 7-7 at 3; ECF No. 7-22 at 54. Plaintiff's SSI application was approved as of June 30, 2010, but the Commissioner denied his DIB application initially and again upon reconsideration. ECF No. 7-3 at 10; ECF No. 7-4; ECF No. 7-5 at 2-11; ECF No. 7-16 at 23.

         Upon Plaintiff's request, ALJ María Alexander Nuñez held a hearing on January 18, 2013. ECF No. 7-3 at 7-61. On March 18, 2013, ALJ Nuñez issued another unfavorable decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled between the alleged onset date of his disability- September 15, 2008-and the date he was last insured for benefits-March 31, 2009. Id. at 2-6. Plaintiff appealed ALJ Nuñez's decision to this Court, which, upon the Commissioner's consent, remanded the case on January 15, 2014. ECF No. 7-17 at 2-3.

         On remand, ALJ Theodore P. Kennedy held a second hearing, and on August 1, 2014, he issued a decision once again finding Plaintiff not disabled from the alleged onset date of disability through the date last insured. ECF No. 7-16 at 20-46. Plaintiff again appealed to this Court, and on September 7, 2016, this Court remanded the case to the Commissioner, holding that the ALJ's decision frustrated meaningful review. ECF No. 7-23 at 2-23.

         On remand for the second time, ALJ Melvin G. Olmscheid held a third hearing. ECF No. 7-22 at 44-110. On June 15, 2017, ALJ Olmscheid issued a decision finding that Plaintiff (1) had not engaged in substantial gainful activity from his alleged onset date of disability through his date late insured; and (2) had an impairment or a combination of impairments considered to be “severe” on the basis of the requirements in the Code of Federal Regulations; but (3) did not have an impairment or a combination of impairments meeting or equaling one of the impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 404(P)(1). Id. at 20, 22.

         ALJ Olmscheid then determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:

[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he can perform work that only occasionally requires balancing, stopping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, and climbing (except never requires the use of ladders, ropes, and scaffolds.) He can perform jobs that allow frequent exposure to extreme cold, extreme heat, and irritants such as fumes, odors, dust, gases, and poorly ventilated areas. He needs to avoid hazards. He can perform jobs consisting of simple (1- to 3-step tasks), routine, and repetitive tasks, in a work environment without production rate pace, and with only occasional interaction with co-workers and the public. ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.