United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE
GORDON BAKER, Magistrate Judge.
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
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
FACTS AND ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS
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.)
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.
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
(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)).
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. Â§ 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. Â§
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. Â§ 404.1520. If an individual is found not disabled at
any step, further inquiry is unnecessary. See 20
C.F.R. Â§ 404.1520(a)(4); see also Hall v.
Harris, 658 F.2d 260 (4th Cir. 1981).
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. Â§
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).
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
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. Â§ 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) ...