United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge
Plaintiff Theresa Tenaglia seeks judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the Commissioner) denying her claim for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI) benefits. The matter is before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (R & R) of United States Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McDonald, made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) for the District of South Carolina. See R & R, ECF No. 25. The Magistrate Judge recommends the Court affirm the Commissioner’s decision. R & R at 23.
Factual Findings and Procedural History
On April 1, 2010, Plaintiff applied for DIB and supplemental security income benefits alleging a disability onset date of June 1, 2009 due to neuropathy, numbness, nerve damage, back pain, and drinking problem. Administrative Transcript (Tr.) at 348. The Commissioner denied her application initially and on reconsideration, so Plaintiff requested a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ held a hearing and issued a decision on October 24, 2012 finding Plaintiff was not disabled Tr. at 125-36. Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council, which remanded the case to the ALJ on September 20, 2013 and directed him to:
• Consider whether the doctrine of res judicata applies to the current application.
• Update the record and obtain any available additional evidence concerning the claimant’s impairments from her treating sources.
• Give further consideration to the claimant’s maximum residual functional capacity and provide appropriate rationale with specific references to evidence of record in support of the assessed limitations . . .
• Obtain evidence from a vocational expert to clarify the effect of the assessed limitations on the claimant’s occupational base . . .and
• Determine whether the claimant has a medically determined substance abuse disorder . . .
Tr. at 144-146.
The ALJ held a video hearing pursuant to the Appeals Council remand on March 12, 2014. At the hearing, the claimant amended her onset date to December 2, 2009. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on April 21, 2014, finding Plaintiff was not disabled from December 2, 2009 through the date of its April 21, 2014 decision. Tr. at 19-31. The ALJ’s findings were as follows:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2012.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 2, 2009, the amended alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: alcoholic cirrhosis/hepatitis; alcoholic seizures; and alcohol abuse (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(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, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
. . . .
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a). Specifically, the claimant is able to lift and carry up to 10 pounds occasionally and lesser amounts frequently, sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour day, and stand and walk occasionally. The claimant must avoid work at heights or around moving machinery. She is limited to understanding, remembering, and carrying out simple instructions. The claimant can occasionally interact with co-workers and supervisors but she must not have significant interaction with the public.
. . . .
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR ...