United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S
ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR REMAND
M. DiGirolamo United States Magistrate Judge
Edna H. 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 pro se Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 13); Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 14); Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary
Judgment and alternative motion for remand filed by
Plaintiff’s counsel (ECF No. 18);
“Defendant’s Reply to Plaintiff’s Motion
for Summary Judgment, ” docketed as Defendant’s
response to Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment
(ECF No. 21); and “Plaintiff’s Response to
Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, ”
docketed as Plaintiff’s reply to Defendant’s
response to Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment
(ECF No. 24). 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. 18) is GRANTED.
January 9, 2017, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Charles Woode held a hearing where Plaintiff pro se
and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. R. at
83-101. The ALJ thereafter found on February 7, 2017, that
Plaintiff was not disabled from her alleged onset date of
disability of January 1, 2004, through the date last insured
of June 30, 2005. R. at 66-82. In so finding, the ALJ found
that, through the date last insured, Plaintiff’s
“symptoms do not support listing 1.02, ” her
“impairments do not meet or equal Social Security
listing 1.04, ” and her “symptoms [do] not
satisfy a cardiac listing (4.00).” R. at 72. The ALJ
then found that, through the date last insured, Plaintiff had
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
“to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(a) except she can occasionally balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb ramps and stairs. She cannot
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can frequently handle
bilaterally. She must avoid concentrated exposure to
humidity, extreme temperatures, vibrations, and
hazards.” R. at 72. In light of this RFC and the VE’s
testimony, the ALJ found that, through the date last insured,
she could perform work in the national economy such as an
information clerk, order clerk, or sorter. R. at 76-77. The
ALJ thus found that Plaintiff was not disabled from January
1, 2004, through the date last insured of June 30, 2005. R.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request for
review, Plaintiff filed on February 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 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 (4th
Cir. 1995); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c),
404.1521(a), 416.920(c), 416.921(a).
if the claimant has a severe impairment, then the
Commissioner will consider the medical severity of the
impairment. If the impairment meets or equals one of the
presumptively disabling impairments listed in the
regulations, then the claimant is considered disabled,
regardless of age, education, and work experience. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 404.1520(d),
416.920(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(d); see Radford, 734
F.3d at 293.
if the claimant’s impairment is severe, but it does not
meet or equal one of the presumptively disabling impairments,
then the Commissioner will assess the claimant’s RFC to
determine the claimant’s “ability to meet the
physical, mental, sensory, and other requirements” of
the claimant’s past relevant work. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 404.1545(a)(4),
416.920(a)(4)(iv), 416.945(a)(4). RFC is a measurement of the
most a claimant can do despite his or her limitations.
Hines v. Barnhart, 453 F.3d 559, 562 (4th Cir.
2006); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a)(1),
416.945(a)(1). The claimant is responsible for providing
evidence the Commissioner will use to make a finding as to
the claimant’s RFC, but the Commissioner is responsible
for developing the claimant’s “complete medical
history, including arranging for a consultative
examination(s) if necessary, and making every reasonable
effort to help [the claimant] get medical reports from [the
claimant’s] own medical sources.” 20 C.F.R.