United States District Court, D. South Carolina.
Kaymani D., United States Magistrate Judge.
social security matter is before the court pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c) and Local Civil Rule 83.VII.02 (D.S.C.)
for final adjudication, with the consent of the parties, of
Plaintiff’s petition for judicial review. Plaintiff
brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to
obtain judicial review of a final decision the Commissioner
of Social Security (“Commissioner”), denying her
claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) pursuant
to the Social Security Act (“the Act”). Having
carefully considered the parties’ submissions and the
applicable law, the court affirms the
Commissioner’s decision, as discussed herein.
applied for DIB and SSI in January 2012,  pursuant to
Titles II and XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-403,
and 380-83, et seq., alleging she became disabled on
August 9, 2007. Tr. 190-93. Her applications were denied
initially, Tr. 95-98, and upon reconsideration, Tr. 131- 34.
Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”), Tr. 146-49, which was held on
August 15, 2013, Tr. 25-45. In a decision dated September 27,
2013, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled within
the meaning of the Act. Tr. 13-24. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff’s request for review on December 18, 2014,
making the ALJ’s decision the final decision for
purposes of judicial review. Tr. 1-6. Plaintiff brought this
action seeking judicial review of the Commissioner’s
decision in a Complaint filed on January 23, 2015. ECF No. 1.
was born in December 1973. Tr. 211. At the time of the August
2013 hearing she was 39 years old. Tr. 28. Plaintiff
completed high school; she has prior work history as a
corrections officer, restaurant manager, and therapeutic
assistant. Tr. 216-17. In her form disability report,
Plaintiff indicated she stopped working on August 9, 2007,
because of her medical conditions, which she listed as
depression, four herniated discs, bone and joint pain, and
nerve damage. Tr. 216.
appeared with her non-attorney representative for an
administrative hearing on August 15, 2013. Tr. 25-45. The ALJ
asked Plaintiff if she was familiar with the term res
judicata. When Plaintiff stated she was unfamiliar with the
term the ALJ explained that in her case, because she had a
prior decision in 2010, the ALJ would find Plaintiff had no
disability before June 10, 2010, unless Plaintiff had some
reason for him not to apply that decision. Tr. 28-29.
Plaintiff’s representative indicated she planned to
adhere to the alleged onset date of August 9, 2007, and to
argue the 2010 decision should not apply. Tr. 29.
response to questions from her representative, Plaintiff
testified that she had an on-the-job accident in 2007. Tr.
29. Prior to that she had asthma, in 1997 and 1999 she had
surgery on her left foot, and in 2006 she had surgery on her
right foot. Tr. 30. Plaintiff also stated that she had
problems with her back and had been seen by several doctors.
resumed questioning of Plaintiff and asked her what she felt
was the main reason she was unable to work. Tr. 36. Plaintiff
responded, “Pain.” Id. When asked pain
from what condition, Plaintiff responded: “I have bone
pain. I have a right foot that’s broke, and when 1 had
the surgery, the bond didn’t reconnect where they put
the pins at, so that’s very painful.” Tr. 36-37.
Plaintiff testified that she did not know when the pin broke,
but she “started noticing pain about three years ago. .
. .” Tr. 37. Plaintiff stated that she saw a doctor the
prior month who recommended additional surgery to repair the
broken pin. Id. Plaintiff testified that she sees
other doctors to help with pain management. Plaintiff stated
that she gets shots in her back and was trying to get a nerve
block but her insurance company was “fighting”
her. Tr. 38. Plaintiff testified that she was “waiting
to get in to see Dr. McKiken so he [could] fix the foot”
but would not be able to see him until December because he
was “booked up.” Id. Plaintiff testified
she was also seeing another doctor for her arthritis and
muscle pain. Id.
stated that during a typical day she “[m]ostly lay in a
bed” but sometimes she or her children have
doctors’ appointments. Tr. 39. Plaintiff stated that
lately she has had to cancel appointments more often because
she has not felt well. Id. Plaintiff testified that
between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. she spends five hours in bed.
She stated that she tries to get up to help her mother cook
by putting a chair next to the stove. Tr. 39-40. Plaintiff
stated that she was teaching her children how to help with
the laundry and that she is able to do the shopping. Tr. 40.
Plaintiff testified that she drove five hours in a typical
week and that driving generally included going to the grocery
store or to doctors’ appointments. Id.
Plaintiff stated that she did not watch television or work on
a computer because it hurt to sit up. Id.
representative noted a doctor’s report indicating that
injections were stopped because they were no longer giving
Plaintiff relief-not that Plaintiff was being non-compliant.
mother, Walena Brothers Weaver, also testified at the
hearing. Tr. 41. She testified that she does most of the
household chores because Plaintiff is unable to do them. Tr.
42. The ALJ had no questions for Mrs. Weaver.
September 27, 2013 decision, the ALJ made the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2012.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since June 11, 2010, the period under consideration
(20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et
3. The claimant has the following severe impairment:
levoscoliosis, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis (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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except the claimant can climb, stoop, kneel,
crouch or crawl occasionally and balance frequently. The
claimant is also limited to frequent overhead reaching with
her upper extremities.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on December 21, 1973 and was 33
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR ...