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.

Lawer v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

October 24, 2017

Maureen G. Lawer, Plaintiff,
v.
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1]Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This social security matter is before the court for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to Local Civil Rule 83.VII.02 (D.S.C.). The plaintiff, Maureen G. Lawer, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the defendant, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”), denying her claims for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). Having carefully considered the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the court concludes that the Commissioner's decision should be reversed and the case remanded.

         SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY GENERALLY

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A) and (d)(5), as well as pursuant to the regulations formulated by the Commissioner, the plaintiff has the burden of proving disability, which is defined as an “inability to do 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.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a); see also Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773 (4th Cir. 1973). The regulations require the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to consider, in sequence:

(1) whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity;
(2) whether the claimant has a “severe” impairment;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or equals the requirements of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (“the Listings”), and is thus presumptively disabled;
(4) whether the claimant can perform her past relevant work; and
(5) whether the claimant's impairments prevent her from doing any other kind of work.

20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4).[2] If the ALJ can make a determination that a claimant is or is not disabled at any point in this process, review does not proceed to the next step. Id.

         Under this analysis, a claimant has the initial burden of showing that she is unable to return to her past relevant work because of her impairments. Once the claimant establishes a prima facie case of disability, the burden shifts to the Commissioner. To satisfy this burden, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant has the residual functional capacity, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and impairments, to perform alternative jobs that exist in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A); see also McLain v. Schweiker, 715 F.2d 866, 868-69 (4th Cir. 1983); Hall v. Harris, 658 F.2d 260, 264-65 (4th Cir. 1981); Wilson v. Califano, 617 F.2d 1050, 1053 (4th Cir. 1980). The Commissioner may carry this burden by obtaining testimony from a vocational expert. Grant v. Schweiker, 699 F.2d 189, 192 (4th Cir. 1983).

         ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

         In October 2013, Lawer applied for DIB, alleging disability beginning August 28, 2013. Lawer's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, and she requested a hearing before an ALJ. A hearing was held on May 27, 2015, at which Lawer appeared and testified, and was represented by Tiana Hennet-Zaebst, Esquire. The ALJ issued a decision on July 14, 2015 finding that Lawer was not disabled. (Tr. 13-26.)

         Lawer was born in 1959 and was fifty-four years old on her disability onset date. (Tr. 186.) She has a high school education and has past relevant work experience as a head cashier. (Tr. 191.) Lawer alleged disability due to displacement of “cervical interv. disc neck arm back, ” cholesterol, high blood pressure, and acid reflux. (Tr. 190.)

         In applying the five-step sequential process, the ALJ found that Lawer had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date of August 28, 2013. The ALJ also determined that Lawer's degenerative disc disease, cervical spondylosis, status-post remote fusion, and unspecified hypersomnia were severe impairments. However, the ALJ found that Lawer did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part ...


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.