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Wynn v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division

December 4, 2018

TERRENCE HEATH WYNN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRIAN K. EPPS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Terrence Heath Wynn appeals the decision of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security denying his 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), the Commissioner's final decision be REVERSED and the case be REMANDED to the Commissioner for further consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff applied for DIB on July 25, 2014, alleging a disability onset date of April 30, 2012. Tr. (“R.”), pp. 164-70. Plaintiff's last insured date for purposes of the DIB application is March 31, 2016. R. 178. Plaintiff was thirty-three years old on his alleged disability onset date. Id. Plaintiff applied for benefits based on allegations of chronic debilitating back and leg pain, ruptured discs, high blood pressure, and depression. R. 192. Plaintiff has a twelfth-grade education, and, prior to his alleged disability, Plaintiff had accrued relevant work history as a truck driver, forklift operator, groundskeeper, and corrections officer. R. 37, 193.

         The Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's applications initially, R. 54-68, and on reconsideration, R. 68-84. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), R. 99-100, and the ALJ held a hearing on May 11, 2016. R. 30-53. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, as well as from Tina Baker-Ivey, a Vocational Expert (“VE”). Id. On June 24, 2016, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. R. 10-25.

         Applying the sequential process required by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520, the ALJ found:

1. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity from April 30, 2012, the alleged onset date, though the last insured date of March 31, 2016 (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1571 et seq.).
2. The claimant had the following severe impairment through the last insured Dated: degenerative disc disease (20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c)).
3. Through the last insured date, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled 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, and 404.1526).
4. Through the last insured date, the claimant has the RFC to perform sedentary work[1] as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a) except: sit/stand option; occasional pushing/pulling; never climb ladders or crawl; occasionally climb stairs, balance, or stoop; avoid exposure to heights and machinery; and perform simple 3-4 step job tasks, able to tolerate occasional changes in the workplace. Thus, the claimant was 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 were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could perform through the last date insured, including cashier, parking lot attendant, and ticket taker (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1569, 404.1569(a)). Therefore, the claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from April 30, 2012, the alleged disability onset date, and March 31, 2016, the last insured date. (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g)

R. 15-24.

         When the Appeals Council (“AC”) denied Plaintiff's request for review, R. 1-3, 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 the Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ erred by failing to: (1) find Plaintiff met Listing 1.04B; (2) give proper weight to Plaintiff's treating physician; and (3) properly evaluate his pain under the Holt standard. See doc. nos. 12 (“Pl.'s Br.”), 18 (“Pl.'s Reply”). The Commissioner maintains the decision to deny Plaintiff benefits is ...


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