United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON AN APPEAL FROM A
SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY ACTION
ANAND, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Eric Sprang (“Plaintiff” or
“Claimant”) is a 31-year-old male seeking Social
Security Disability Benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under the
Social Security Act (“the Act”). Plaintiff brings
this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain
judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner” or “Defendant”),
which issued a partially favorable decision, denying
Plaintiff's claim for benefits prior to January 1, 2013,
but finding that Plaintiff became disabled on that date.
Plaintiff alleges disability and entitlement to benefits on
the basis of the severe impairments of Crohn's disease,
anxiety, depression, personality disorder, history of
substance abuse and kidney stones.
filed an application for DIB and SSI on January 16, 2013,
alleging an onset date of disability of December 1, 2000.
Record (hereinafter “R.”) at 250-57. Since then,
Plaintiff amended the alleged onset date once, to June 1,
2011. R. at 275. After the Commissioner's staff initially
denied the applications, Plaintiff requested a hearing before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), and ALJ
Jeffrey W. Kohlman held a hearing on November 10, 2014. R. at
76-109. On January 6, 2015, ALJ Kohlman found that Plaintiff
has “was not disabled ” as defined by the Act
“prior to January 1, 2013, but became disabled on that
date and has continued to be disabled” through the date
of the decision. R. at 65. On May 25, 2016, the Appeals
Council of the Social Security Administration denied
Plaintiff's Request for Review, making the ALJ's
decision final. R. at 8-14. Plaintiff then filed this action
on September 15, 2016. It is now before the undersigned and
is ripe for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For
the reasons set forth below, based on the administrative
record and the briefs of the parties, the undersigned
RECOMMENDS that the final decision of the
Commissioner be REVERSED and REMANDED.
STANDARD FOR DETERMINING DISABILITY
individual is “disabled” for purposes of
disability benefits if he or she is unable to “engage
in 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.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). Any
impairments must result from anatomical, psychological, or
physiological abnormalities demonstrated by medically
accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques, and
must prevent the claimant from substantial gainful work. 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)-(3).
and the Commissioner share the burden of proof. Claimant
bears the initial burden of establishing a
“disability” by demonstrating that he cannot
perform his former type of work. Once Claimant has met this
burden, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that,
considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience and impairment, the claimant can perform other
jobs. Claimant bears the ultimate burden to prove that he
cannot engage in any substantial gainful activity.
Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th Cir.
Commissioner must use a five-step sequential analysis:
(1) Is Claimant currently working? If so, the claim is
(2) Is the claimed impairment severe; that is, does the
impairment or combination of impairments significantly limit
the individual's physical or mental ability to do basic
work activities? If not, the claim is denied.
(3) Does the impairment equal or exceed in severity certain
impairments described in the impairment listings in the
regulations? If so, Claimant is automatically entitled to
(4) Does Claimant have sufficient residual functional
capacity to perform past work? If so, the claim is denied.
(5) Considering Claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, can Claimant
perform any other gainful and substantial work? If so, the
claim is denied.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520-404.1576.
case, the Commissioner, adopting the findings of the ALJ,
made the decision to deny deny disability benefits at Step 5,
finding that, although the Claimant has no past relevant
work, prior to January 1, 2013, he retained the residual
functional capacity that allowed him to perform certain light
jobs that were available in significant numbers in the
FINDINGS OF THE ALJ
made the following findings of fact (“FOF”):
(1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2016.
(2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the amended alleged onset date of June 1,
(3) Since the amended alleged onset date of disability, June
1, 2011, the claimant has had the following severe
impairments: Crohn's disease, anxiety, depression,
personality disorder, ...