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Heeter v. Colvin

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

August 18, 2016

Leona Ruth Heeter, Plaintiff,
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court following the issuance of a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) by United States Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West.[1] Plaintiff, Leona Ruth Heeter, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commission of Social Security (“the Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff’s claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) pursuant to the Social Security Act. The Magistrate Judge recommended reversing the Administrative Law Judge’s decision and remanding the case for further administrative action.

         Factual Findings and Procedural History

         Plaintiff applied for DIB on February 28, 2012, alleging disability as of June 1, 2009. The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). A hearing was held before the ALJ on October 23, 2013. Plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified. A vocational expert also testified. The ALJ issued a decision on November 20, 2013, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. The ALJ’s findings are as follows:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2014.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 1, 2009, the alleged onset date (20 C.F.R. 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: 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 of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b). Specifically, the claimant can lift and carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently and stand, walk, and sit for six hours each in an eight-hour workday, with normal breaks. The claimant can occasionally climb, crawl, crouch, and kneel.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a server, product sorter, and cook. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant’s residual functional capacity (20 C.F.R. 404.1565).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from June 1, 2009, through the date of this decision (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(f)).

[ALJ Decision, ECF #10-2, at 21-28, Tr. 20-27].

         The ALJ’s finding became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request for further review on February 18, 2015. Plaintiff filed this action on April 23, 2015, seeking judicial review of the ALJ’s decision. [Compl., ECF #1]. Both Plaintiff and Defendant filed briefs, [ECF ## 18, 20 & 21]. The Magistrate Judge issued her Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) on June 23, 2016, recommending that the ALJ’s decision be reversed and remanded for further administrative consideration. [R&R, ECF #24]. Defendant filed timely objections to the R&R on July 11, 2016. [Defendant’s Objections, ECF #25]. Plaintiff filed a response to Defendant’s objections on July 28, 2016. [ECF #29].

         Standard ...


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