United States District Court, District of South Carolina, Florence Division
Thomas E. Rogers, III United States Magistrate Judge
This is an action brought pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 405(g), to obtain judicial review of a "final decision" of the Commissioner of Social Security, denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB). The only issues before the Court are whether the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence and whether proper legal standards have been applied. This case is before the Court pursuant to Local Rule 83.VII.02, D .S.C., concerning the disposition of Social Security cases in this District on consent of the parties. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND
A. Procedural History
Plaintiff applied for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) on December 13, 2010, alleging that she became disabled on December 4, 2010. (Tr. 12). Her claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 90-91, 99-100, 101-104). Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing, (Tr. 110-111). On June 7, 2012, the ALJ held a hearing at which Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, appeared and testified. (Tr. 33-66). After the hearing, on July 27, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 12-24). On September 11, 2012, Plaintiff requested review of the ALJ’s decision, which the Appeals Council subsequently denied, rendering it the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-7). Plaintiff filed this action on November 21, 2013, in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. This case is ripe for review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
B. Plaintiff’s Background and Medical History
1. Introductory Facts
Plaintiff was born on January 28, 1962 and was 48 years old at the time of the alleged onset. (Tr. 22). Plaintiff has at least a high school and past relevant work experience as an administrative assistant, insurance clerk, and secretary. (Tr. 22).
2. Medical Records and Opinions
The ALJ provided a detailed summary of the evidence of record including Plaintiff’s testimony, which the Court adopts to the extent that it is consistent with this decision. Additional factual details will be added where necessary to address the issues raised by the parties.
C. The Administrative Proceedings 1.The ALJ’s Decision
In the decision of July 27, 2012, the ALJ found the following:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2013.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 4, 2010, the alleged onset date (20 C.F.R. 404.1571, et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: depression, anxiety, asthma, dysthymic disorder, obesity, and degenerative disc disease (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one 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).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except the claimant is able to occasionally climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and should avoid concentrated exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and poor ventilation as well as hazards such as dangerous machinery and unprotected heights. In addition, the claimant has the ability to understand, remember and carry out short and ...