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.

Lawson v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

September 5, 2017

SHERRIE LYNETTE LAWSON, 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 Jacquelyn D. Austin's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) that this court affirm Acting Commissioner of Social Security Nancy A. Berryhill's (“the Commissioner”) decision denying plaintiff Sherrie Lynette Lawson's (“Lawson”) application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”). Lawson filed objections to the R&R. For the reasons set forth below, the court adopts the R&R and affirms the Commissioner's decision.

         I. BACKGROUND

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

         A. Procedural History

         Lawson filed an application for DIB and SSI on September 28, 2012, alleging disability beginning on September 18, 2012. The Social Security Agency denied Lawson's claim initially and on reconsideration. Lawson requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), and ALJ Gregory M. Wilson held a hearing on September 5, 2014.

         The ALJ issued a decision on January 23, 2015, finding Lawson not disabled under the Social Security Act. Lawson requested Appeals Council review of the ALJ's decision. The Appeals Council denied Lawson's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. On June 7, 2016, Lawson filed this action seeking review of the ALJ's decision. The magistrate judge issued an R&R on May 16, 2017, recommending that this court affirm the ALJ's decision. Lawson filed objections to the R&R on May 30, 2017, to which the Commissioner responded on June 5, 2017. The matter is now ripe for the court's review.

         B. Medical History

         Because Lawson's medical history is not directly at issue here, the court dispenses with a lengthy recitation thereof and instead notes a few relevant facts. Lawson was born on November 6, 1971, and was 40 years old on the alleged onset date. She has a high school education, three years of technical training, and past relevant work experience as a computer indexer, data entry, and surgical technician.

         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 her from performing past relevant work; and (5) if so, “whether the claimant is able to perform other work considering both [her] remaining physical and mental capacities” (defined by her residual functional capacity) and 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 Lawson was disabled from September 18, 2012, through the date last insured, December 31, 2014. The ALJ first determined that Lawson did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period at issue. Tr. 20. At the second step, the ALJ found that Lawson suffered from the following severe impairments: femur fracture, status post-surgery; hypertension; obesity; and degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine. Tr. 20. At step three, the ALJ found that Lawson'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. 24-25; see 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpt. P, App'x 1. Before reaching the fourth step, the ALJ determined Lawson had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work as defined by 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). Tr. 25. Specifically, the ALJ found that Lawson could lift or carry up to twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; stand or walk for approximately six hours in an eight-hour workday; sit (with normal breaks) for approximately six hours in an eight-hour day; occasionally climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; and frequently balance and stoop; occasionally kneel, crouch, and crawl; and avoid concentrated exposure to hazards. Tr. 25. The ALJ found at step four that Lawson was capable of performing past relevant work as a computer indexer, data entry, and surgical technician. Tr. 34. Accordingly, the ALJ found that Lawson was not disabled during the period at issue. Tr. 35.

         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.