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.

McDaniel v. Berryhill

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

August 31, 2017

JANICE MARIE MCDANIEL, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration,[1] Defendant.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on United States Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodge's Report and Recommendation ("R&R") that this court reverse and remand Acting Commissioner of Social Security Nancy A. Berryhill's ("the Commissioner") decision-denying plaintiff Janice Marie McDaniel's ("McDaniel") application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI"). The Commissioner filed objections to the R&R. For the reasons set forth below, the court adopts the R&R, reverses the Commissioner's decision, and remands for further administrative proceedings.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Unless otherwise noted, the following background is drawn from the R&R.

         A. Procedural History

         McDaniel filed an application for DIB and SSI on November 8 and November 3, 2011, respectively, alleging disability beginning on August 31, 2008. The Social Security Agency denied McDaniel's claim initially and on reconsideration. McDaniel requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"), and ALJ Frederick W. Christian held a hearing on December 17, 2013.

         The ALJ issued a decision on August 27, 2014, finding McDaniel not disabled under the Social Security Act. McDaniel requested Appeals Council review of the ALJ's decision. The Appeals Council denied McDaniel's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. On February 18, 2016, McDaniel filed this action seeking review of the ALJ's decision. The magistrate judge issued an R&R on November 30, 2016, recommending that this court reverse and remand the ALJ's decision. The Commissioner filed objections to the R&R on December 16, 2016, to which McDaniel responded on January 3, 2017. The matter is now ripe for the court's review.

         B. Medical History

         Because McDaniel's medical history is not directly at issue here, the court dispensed with a lengthy recitation thereof and instead notes a few relevant facts. McDaniel was born oh February 22, 1962, and was 46 years old on the alleged onset date. She has a ninth grade education and past relevant work experience as a cashier checker and a hotel clerk.

         C. ALJ's Findings

         The Social Security Act defines "disability" 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 12'months[.]" 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a). The Social Security regulations establish a five-step sequential evaluation process to determine whether a claimant is disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. Under this process, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant: (1) "is currently engaged in substantial gainful activity;" (2) "has a severe impairment;" (3) has an impairment which equals an illness contained in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpt. P, App'x 1, "which warrants a finding of disability without considering vocational factors;" (4) if not, whether the claimant has an impairment that prevents him or her from performing past relevant work; and (5) if so, "whether the claimant is able to perform other work considering both his [or her] remaining physical and mental capacities" (defined by his or her residual functional capacity) and his or her "vocational capabilities '(age, education, and past work experience) to adjust to a new job." Hall v. Harris, 658 F.2d 260, 264-65 (4th Cir. 1981); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). The applicant bears the burden of proof during the first four steps of the inquiry, while the burden shifts to the Commissioner for the final step. Pass v. Chater, 65 F.3d 1200, 1203 (4th Cir. 1995) (citing Hunter v. Sullivan, 993 F.2d 31, 35 (4th Cir. 1992)).

         The ALJ employed the statutorily-required five-step sequential evaluation process to determine whether McDaniel was disabled from August 31, 2008, through the date last " insured, December 31, 2013. The ALJ first determined that McDaniel did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period at issue. Tr. 19. At the second step, the ALJ found that McDaniel suffered from the following severe impairments: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, obesity, fibromyalgia, depression, obstructive sleep apnea, and degenerative disc disease.[2] Tr. 19. At step three, the ALJ found that McDaniel's impairments or combination of impairments did not meet or equal one of the listed impairments in the Agency's Listings of Impairments ("the Listings"). Tr. 19-21; see 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpt. P, App'x 1. Before reaching the fourth step, the ALJ determined McDaniel had the residual function capacity ("RFC") to perform light work as defined by 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). Tr. 21. Specifically, the ALJ found that McDaniel could lift and/or carry (including upward pulling) twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; stand and/or walk (with normal breaks) for a total of about six hours in an eight-hour day; sit (with normal breaks) for a total of about six hours in an eight-hour day except no exposure to excessive dust, fumes, gases, odors or otheratmospheric pollutants, nor to extremes of temperature and humidity; never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; and occasionally climb stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl; and is limited to unskilled work. Tr. 21. The ALJ found at step four that McDaniel was unable to perform any past relevant work. Tr. 31. Finally, at step five, the ALJ determined that, considering McDaniel's age, education, work experience, and RFC, she could perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy and concluded that she was not disabled during the period at issue. Tr. 32.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This court is charged with conducting a de novo review of any portion of the magistrate judge's R&R to which specific, written objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). A party's failure to object is accepted as agreement with the magistrate judge's conclusions. See Thomas v. Arn. 474 U.S. 140, 149-50(1985). The R&R carries no presumptive weight, and the ...


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.