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Jenkins v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

October 6, 2014

Demetrius Jenkins, Plaintiff,
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

PAIGE J. GOSSETT, Magistrate Judge.

This social security matter is before the court for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to Local Civil Rule 83.VII.02 DSC. The plaintiff, Demetrius Jenkins, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the defendant, Acting Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), denying his claims for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). Having carefully considered the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the court concludes that the Commissioner's decision should be remanded for further consideration as explained below.

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY GENERALLY

Under 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(H)(i), as well as pursuant to the regulations formulated by the Commissioner, the plaintiff has the burden of proving disability, which is defined as an "inability 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. § 416.905(a); see also Blalock v. Richardson , 483 F.2d 773 (4th Cir. 1973). The regulations generally require the ALJ to consider, in sequence:

(1) whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity;
(2) whether the claimant has a "severe" impairment;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or equals the requirements of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 ("the Listings"), and is thus presumptively disabled;
(4) whether the claimant can perform his past relevant work; and
(5) whether the claimant's impairments prevent him from doing any other kind of work.

20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4).[2] However, Step One is not used for redetermining disability benefits at age eighteen. 20 C.F.R. § 4163987(b). If the ALJ can make a determination that a claimant is or is not disabled at any point in this process, review does not proceed to the next step. Id.

Under this analysis, a claimant has the initial burden of showing that he is unable to return to his past relevant work because of his impairments. Once the claimant establishes a prima facie case of disability, the burden shifts to the Commissioner. To satisfy this burden, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant has the residual functional capacity, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and impairments, to perform alternative jobs that exist in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A)-(B); see also McLain v. Schweiker , 715 F.2d 866, 868-69 (4th Cir. 1983); Hall v. Harris , 658 F.2d 260, 264-65 (4th Cir. 1981); Wilson v. Califano , 617 F.2d 1050, 1053 (4th Cir. 1980). The Commissioner may carry this burden by obtaining testimony from a vocational expert. Grant v. Schweiker , 699 F.2d 189, 192 (4th Cir. 1983).

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

Jenkins received SSI based on his disability as a child. Upon reaching the age of eighteen, Jenkins's eligibility for benefits was reevaluated, and Jenkins was determined to no longer be disabled as of January 1, 2011. This determination was upheld on reconsideration following a hearing before a Disability Hearing Officer. Jenkins then requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). A hearing was held on October 30, 2012 at which Jenkins appeared and testified and was represented by Margaret Sparrow, a non-attorney representative and Jenkins's legal guardian. After hearing testimony from a vocational expert, the ALJ issued a decision on December 13, 2012 finding that Jenkins's disability ended on January 1, 2011, and he had not become disabled again since that date. (Tr. 15-23.)

In applying the sequential process, the ALJ found that Jenkins attained age eighteen in March 2010 and was eligible for SSI as a child for the month preceding the month in which he attained age eighteen. Jenkins was notified that he was found no longer disabled as of January 1, 2011 based on a redetermination of disability under the rules for adults who file new applications. The ALJ determined that, since January 1, 2011, Jenkins's oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning were severe impairments. However, the ALJ found that Jenkins did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the ...


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