United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. McDonald United States Magistrate Judge
case is before the court for a report and recommendation
pursuant to Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a) (D.S.C.),
concerning the disposition of Social Security cases in this
District, and Title 28, United States Code, Section
636(b)(1)(B). The plaintiff brought this action pursuant
to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended (42
U.S.C. 405(g)) to obtain judicial review of a final decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for
disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) on March 21, 2013, alleging that
she became unable to work on November 1, 2010. The
application was denied initially and on reconsideration by
the Social Security Administration. On November 22, 2013, the
plaintiff requested a hearing. The administrative law judge
(“ALJ”), before whom the plaintiff and Karl S.
Weldon, an impartial vocational expert, appeared at a hearing
held in Charlotte, North Carolina, on February 13, 2015,
considered the case de novo and, on April 9, 2015,
found that the plaintiff was not under a disability as
defined in the Social Security Act, as amended. The Appeals
Council denied the plaintiff's request for review on
September 3, 2016. On October 31, 2016, the Appeals Council
set aside its September 3rd decision to consider
additional information. After considering the additional
information, the Appeals Council again denied the
plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's
finding the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security. The plaintiff then filed this action for judicial
making the determination that the plaintiff is not entitled
to benefits, the Commissioner has adopted the following
findings of the ALJ:
(1) The claimant last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on December 31, 2012.
(2) The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
activity during the period from her alleged onset date of
November 1, 2010, through her date last insured of December
31, 2012 (20 C.F.R. § 404.1571 et seq).
(3) Through the date last insured, the claimant had the
following severe impairments: diabetes, arthritis of the hips
and legs, and hypertension (20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c)).
(4) Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled 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, and 404.1526).
(5) After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the
claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform
medium work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(c) except the
claimant can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs; never
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; frequently balance;
occasionally stoop, kneel, and crouch; never crawl; and must
avoid concentrated exposure to hazards and temperature
(6) Through the date last insured, the claimant was capable
of performing past relevant work as a doffer (DOT
689.686-022, medium, unskilled) and weaver (DOT 683.682-022,
light, unskilled). This work did 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 was not under a disability, as defined in
the Social Security Act, from November 1, 2010, the alleged
onset date, through December 31, 2012, the date last insured
(20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g)).
only issues before the court are whether proper legal
standards were applied and whether the final decision of the
Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence.
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A), (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. §
facilitate a uniform and efficient processing of disability
claims, the Social Security Act has by regulation reduced the
statutory definition of “disability” to a series
of five sequential questions. An examiner must consider
whether the claimant (1) is engaged in substantial gainful
activity, (2) has a severe impairment, (3) has an impairment
that meets or medically equals an impairment contained in the
Listing of Impairments found at 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P,
App. 1, (4) can perform his past relevant work, and (5) can
perform other work. Id. § 404.1520. If an
individual is found not disabled at any step, further inquiry
is unnecessary. Id. § 404.1520(a)(4).
claimant must make a prima facie case of disability
by showing he is unable to return to his past relevant work
because of his impairments. Grant v. Schweiker, 699
F.2d 189, 191 (4th Cir. 1983). Once an individual
has established a prima facie case of disability,
the burden shifts to the Commissioner to establish that the
plaintiff can perform alternative work and that such work
exists in the national economy. Id. (citing 42
U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)). The Commissioner may carry this
burden by obtaining testimony from a vocational expert.
Id. at 192.
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the court may review the
Commissioner's denial of benefits. However, this review
is limited to considering whether the Commissioner's
findings “are supported by substantial evidence and
were reached through application of the correct legal
standard.” Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589
(4th Cir. 1996). “Substantial evidence” means
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion; it consists of
more than a mere scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat
less than a preponderance.” Id. In reviewing
the evidence, the court may not “undertake to re-weigh
conflicting evidence, make credibility determinations, or
substitute [its] judgment for that of the
[Commissioner].” Id. Consequently, even if the
court disagrees with Commissioner's decision, the court
must uphold it if it supported by substantial evidence.
Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773, 775
(4th Cir. 1972).
plaintiff was born on August 16, 1955, and was 55 years old
on her alleged disability onset date (November 1, 2010) and
57 years old on her date last insured (December 31, 2012).
She has a high school education and past relevant work
experience in the textile industry as a weaver and a doffer
April 22, 2008, the plaintiff visited Parag Anandpura, M.D.,
at Shiland Family Medicine (“Shiland”) for
refills of arthritis medicine. On May 6, 2008, she visited
Shiland for a urinary tract infection and back pain. Dr.
Anandpura prescribed Darvocet-N (Tr. 356).
August 29, 2008, she visited Shiland and was continued on
diclofenac for pain and cautioned to use it sparingly. On
September 8, 2008, she was prescribed Vicodin for back pain
(Tr. 353, 354).
28, 2010, the plaintiff visited Shiland for arthritis pain
and was prescribed Voltaren. She returned on July 7, 2010,
for pain across her back and ...