United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BRISTOW MARCHANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff filed the complaint in this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner wherein she was denied
disability benefits. This case was referred to the
undersigned for a report and recommendation pursuant to Local
Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a), (D.S.C.).
applied for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on February 22, 2013,
alleging disability beginning December 1, 2012 due to
arthritis, DVT, and hypertension. Plaintiff's claims were
denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff then
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), which was held on July 27, 2015. (R.pp.
27-43). The ALJ thereafter denied Plaintiff's claims in a
decision issued September 23, 2015. (R.pp. 12-22). The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a review
of the ALJ's decision, thereby making the determination
of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. (R.pp.
1-5). Plaintiff then filed this action in United States
District Court. Plaintiff asserts that there is not
substantial evidence to support the ALJ's findings, and
that the decision should be reversed and remanded for further
consideration, or for an outright award of benefits. The
Commissioner contends that the decision to deny benefits is
supported by substantial evidence, and that Plaintiff was
properly found not to be disabled.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court's scope of review is
limited to (1) whether the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence, and (2) whether the
conclusions reached by the Commissioner are legally correct
under controlling law. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d
1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990); Richardson v. Califano,
574 F.2d 802, 803 (4th Cir. 1978); Myers v.Califano,
611 F.2d 980, 982-983 (4th Cir. 1980). If the record contains
substantial evidence to support the Commissioner's
decision, it is the court's duty to affirm the decision.
Substantial evidence has been defined as:
evidence which a reasoning mind would accept as sufficient to
support a particular conclusion. It consists of more than a
mere scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat less than a
preponderance. If there is evidence to justify refusal to
direct a verdict were the case before a jury, then there is
“substantial evidence.” [emphasis added].
Hays, 907 F.2d at 1456 (citing Laws v.
Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640');">368 F.2d 640');">368 F.2d 640');">368 F.2d 640 (4th Cir. 1966)).
Court lacks the authority to substitute its own judgement for
that of the Commissioner. Laws, 368 F.2d at 642.
“[T]he language of [405(g)] precludes a de novo
judicial proceeding and requires that the court uphold the
[Commissioner's] decision even should the court disagree
with such decision as long as it is supported by substantial
evidence.” Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d
773, 775 (4th Cir. 1972).
review of the record shows that Plaintiff, who was
fifty-three (53) years old on the onset date of her claimed
disability, has a high school education with past relevant
work experience as a cosmetologist. At the time of the ALJ
hearing, Plaintiff was working part-time as a caregiver.
(R.pp. 32-34). In order to be considered
“disabled” within the meaning of the SSA,
Plaintiff must show that she has an impairment or combination
of impairments which prevent her from engaging in all
substantial gainful activity for which she is qualified by
her age, education, experience and functional capacity, and
which has lasted or could reasonably be expected to last for
at least twelve (12) consecutive months. After a review of
the evidence and testimony in the case, the ALJ determined
that, although Plaintiff does suffer from the
“severe” impairments of degenerative joint
disease, obesity, and peripheral vascular disease, rendering
her unable to perform her past relevant work, she
nevertheless retained the residual functional capacity (RFC)
to perform light workrequiring only occasional climbing,
balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling; and
no exposure to temperature extremes, wetness, vibration,
concentrated pulmonary irritants, or work hazards, and was
therefore not entitled to disability benefits. (R.pp. 14, 16,
asserts that the ALJ's RFC assessment is not supported by
substantial evidence as it was not in compliance with Social
Security Ruling [“SSR”] 96-8p. However, after a
careful review and consideration of the evidence and
arguments presented, the undersigned finds and concludes for
the reasons set forth hereinbelow that there is substantial
evidence to support the decision of the Commissioner, and
that the decision should therefore be affirmed.
Laws, 368 F.2d 640');">368 F.2d 640');">368 F.2d 640');">368 F.2d 640 [Substantial evidence is
“evidence which a reasoning mind would accept as
sufficient to support a particular conclusion”].
medical records show that on February 9, 2013, Plaintiff went
to the Roper Hospital emergency room for complaints of a
headache, back pain, abdomen pain, and elbow pain following a
fall in a parking lot three days earlier. (R.p. 555). On
examination, Plaintiff had generally normal findings,
including a normal neurological examination with normal range
of motion, joints, normal cranial nerves, sensation, motor
strength, and no pedal edema. (R.pp. 554-556). Diagnostic
imaging showed no acute intra cranial abnormality; (R.p.
587); and she was observed ambulating to check-out with a
February 13, 2013, Plaintiff was evaluated at the Franklin C.
Fetter Family Heath Center (“Fetter Family Health
Clinic”), where she complained of back pain, having
difficulty standing for a long time, and walking with a cane.
(R.p. 710). She was diagnosed with back pain and a back
contusion, and was excused from work for one week. (R.pp.
712-713). Plaintiff followed up with Dr. Charles Effiong with
the Fetter Family Health Clinic on February 20, 2013.