Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Carter v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

January 20, 2016

Barbara Ann Carter, Plaintiff,
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MARY GORDON BAKER, Magistrate Judge.

         This case is before the Court for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a), D.S.C., concerning the disposition of Social Security cases in this District, and Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B).[1]

         The Plaintiff, Barbara Ann Carter, brought this action 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 Administration regarding her claim for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act.

         RELEVANT FACTS AND ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

         Plaintiff was 45 years old on her alleged disability onset date of January 3, 2012. (R. at 12, 62, 155.) Plaintiff claims disability due to, inter alia, degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, and obesity. (R. at 14.) Plaintiff has a high school education and past relevant work as a pharmacy technician. (R. at 173, 21, 35-36.)

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB on March 29, 2012. (R. at 12.) After her application was denied initially and on reconsideration, a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on March 14, 2013. (R. at 12.) In a decision dated April 9, 2013, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. (R. at 12-22.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, (R. at 1-3), making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review.

         In making the determination that the Plaintiff is not entitled to benefits, the Commissioner has adopted the following findings of the ALJ:

(1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2016.
(2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 3, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. ).
(3) The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, obesity, and degenerative joint disease (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
(4) 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 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 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 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) except only occasional postural activities, no climbing or crawling, and must avoid concentrated exposure to work hazards.
(6) The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a pharmacy technician. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565).
(7) The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from January 3, 2012, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).

         APPLICABLE LAW

         The Act provides that disability benefits shall be available to those persons insured for benefits, who are not of retirement age, who properly apply, and who are under a "disability." 42 U.S.C. § 423(a). "Disability" is defined in the Act as the inability to "engage in 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" twelve months. See 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).

         To facilitate a uniform and efficient processing of disability claims, the Act has by regulation reduced the statutory definition of "disability" to a series of five sequential questions. An examiner must consider whether the claimant (1) is engaged in substantial gainful activity, (2) has a severe impairment, (3) has an impairment which equals an illness contained in the Administration's official Listing of Impairments found at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, (4) has an impairment which prevents past relevant work, and (5) has an impairment which prevents her from doing substantial gainful employment. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. If an individual is found not disabled at any step, further inquiry is unnecessary. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4); see also Hall v. Harris, 658 F.2d 260 (4th Cir. 1981).

         A plaintiff is not disabled within the meaning of the Act if she can return to past relevant work as it is customarily performed in the economy or as the claimant actually performed the work. See SSR 82-62, 1982 WL 31386, at *3. The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing her inability to work within the meaning of the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(5). She must make a prima facie showing of disability by showing that she is unable to return to her past relevant work. Grant v. Schweiker, 699 F.2d 189, 191 (4th Cir. 1983); see also Pass v. Chater, 65 F.3d 1200, 1203 (4th Cir. 1995).

         Once an individual has established an inability to return to her past relevant work, the burden is on the Commissioner to come forward with evidence that the plaintiff can perform alternative work and that such work exists in the regional economy. See Grant, 699 F.2d at 191. The Commissioner may carry the burden of demonstrating the existence of jobs available in the national economy which the plaintiff can perform despite the existence of impairments which prevent the return to past relevant work by obtaining testimony from a vocational expert. See id. at 191-92.

         The scope of judicial review by the federal courts in disability cases is narrowly tailored to determine whether the findings of the Commissioner "are supported by substantial evidence and whether the correct law was applied." Hays v. Sullivan,907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990); see alsoRichardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389 (1971); 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Consequently, the Act precludes a de novo review of the evidence and requires the court to uphold the Commissioner's decision as long as it is supported by substantial evidence. Pyles v. Bowen,849 F.2d 846, 848 (4th Cir. 1988) ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.