United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EPPS UNI LED STALES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Michelle Grant appeals the decision of the Acting
Commissioner of Social Security denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under the
Social Security Act. Upon consideration of the briefs
submitted by both parties, the record evidence, and the
relevant statutory and case law, the Court
REPORTS and RECOMMENDS
pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), that
the Commissioner's final decision be
REVERSED and that the case be
REMANDED to the Commissioner for further
consideration in accordance with this opinion.
applied for DIB on June 14, 2013, alleging a disability onset
date of April 14, 2013. Tr. ("R"), PP- 178.
Plaintiff was thirty-eight years old at her alleged
disability onset date and was forty-one years old at the time
the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") issued the
decision currently under consideration. R. 38. Plaintiff
graduated from high school and attended vocational-technical
school for two years. R. 55. Prior to her alleged onset date,
Plaintiff worked for approximately fourteen years as a
respiratory therapist. R. 36, 225. Plaintiff applied for
disability based on a left arm amputation, as well as
allegations of back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, pain spasms
on stub, depression, anxiety, and dental pain. R. 57-58,
Social Security Administration denied Plaintiffs application
initially and on reconsideration. R. 64-65. Plaintiff then
requested a hearing before an ALJ, R. 98-101, and an ALJ
convened a hearing on May 6, 2015. R. 44-50. That hearing was
adjourned to allow Plaintiff to obtain representation. R. 47.
A different ALJ held a hearing on October 1, 2015. R. 51-63.
At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Plaintiff, who
was represented by counsel, and Kim Bennett, a Vocational
Expert. Li On October 30, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision. R. 24-43.
the sequential process required by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520,
the ALJ found:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 14, 2013, the alleged onset date. (20
C.F.R. § 404.1571 etseq).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
amputated left arm, obesity, PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
(20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c)).
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1. (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525
4. The claimant has the residual functional capacity
("RFC") to perform to perform sedentary work as
defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a) except she can
walk/stand six hours in an eight-hour workday. She can only lift
up to 10 pounds frequently with the right hand. She is best
suited performing SVP 3 level, semi-skilled work. She should
not require use of the non-dominant left arm. She can
frequently climb ramps and stairs but not ropes, ladders, or
scaffolds. She should not work around hazardous machinery or
unprotected heights. She can frequently crawl, crouch, stoop,
kneel, balance, but not crawl, [sic] She can have occasional
face-to-face interaction with the public but frequent
interaction with co-workers and supervisors. She should not
perform fast pace work like assembly line, conveyor belt, or
fast food. Thus, the claimant is unable to perform any past
relevant work. (20 C.F.R. § 404.1565).
5. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that the claimant can
perform, (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)),
including surveillance system monitor and call out operator.
Therefore, the claimant has not been under a disability, as
defined in the Social Security Act, from April 14, 2013, the
alleged onset date, through October 30, 2015 (the date of the
ALJ's decision). (20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g)).
the Appeals Council ("AC") denied Plaintiffs
request for review, R. 1-5, the Commissioner's decision
became "final" for the purpose of judicial review.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff then filed this civil
action requesting reversal or remand of that adverse
decision. Plaintiff argues that the Commissioner's
decision is not supported by substantial evidence because the
ALJ (1) failed to properly consider the medical opinion
evidence in the record when formulating Plaintiffs RFC; and
(2) improperly evaluated Plaintiff's credibility.
(See doc. no. 14 ("PL's Br."); doc.
no. 16 ("Reply Br.").) The Commissioner maintains
the ALJ's determination that Plaintiff has an RFC for
sedentary work is supported by substantial evidence.
(See doc, no. 15 ("Comm'r's