United States District Court, D. South Carolina
For Adrian Manigo, Plaintiff: W Daniel Mayes, LEAD ATTORNEY, Smith Massey Brodie Thumond Guynn and Mayes, Aiken, SC.
For Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant: Marshall Prince, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorneys Office, Columbia, SC.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Paige J. Gossett, UNITED STATES 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, Adrian Manigo, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § § 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the defendant, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (" Commissioner"), denying his claims for Disability Insurance Benefits (" DIB") and Supplemental Security Income (" SSI"). Having carefully considered the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the court concludes that this matter should be affirmed.
SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY GENERALLY
Under 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A), (d)(5) and § 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. § § 404.1505(a), 416.905(a); see also Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773 (4th Cir. 1973). The regulations 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. § § 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). 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.
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. § § 423(d)(2)(A), 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).
In July 2010, Manigo applied for DIB and SSI, alleging disability beginning July 18, 2009. Manigo's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, and he requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (" ALJ"). A hearing was held on June 15, 2012, at which Manigo, who was represented by Eleanor Swierk, a non-attorney representative, appeared and testified. After hearing testimony from a vocational expert, the ALJ issued a decision on August 6, 2012 denying benefits and concluding that Manigo was not disabled. (Tr. 18-29.)
Manigo was born in 1977 and was thirty-two years old at the time of his alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 143.) He has a tenth grade education and past relevant work experience as a concrete finisher. (Tr. 183.) Manigo alleged disability due to a gun shot wound to his left leg, scoliosis, a hole in his ACL, bad back, limited mobility, and chronic pain. (Tr. 182.)
In applying the five-step sequential process, the ALJ found that Manigo had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 18, 2009--his alleged onset date. The ALJ also determined that Manigo's history of a gunshot wound to the left leg, obesity, depressive disorder, and conversion disorder were severe impairments. However, the ALJ found that Manigo did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the " Listings"). The ALJ further found that Manigo retained the residual functional capacity to
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except the claimant cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, but can occasionally perform the other postural movements, can do frequent reaching, handling, fingering, and feeling, must avoid even moderate exposure to hazards, and requires a cane for ambulation. He must avoid concentrated exposure to respiratory irritants and can perform tasks that do not require constant speech. The claimant is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks in a low stress work environment, meaning no production-paced work and minimal decision-making.
(Tr. 22.) The ALJ found that Manigo was unable to perform any past relevant work, but that there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Manigo could perform. Therefore, the ALJ found that Manigo was not disabled from July 18, 2009 through the date of his decision.
Manigo appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, which denied his request for review on September 19, 2013 making the decision of the ALJ the final action of the ...