United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
JAYNIECE K. STURDEVANT, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on United States Magistrate Judge
Paige J. Gossett's Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) that the court affirm Acting
Commissioner of Social Security Nancy A. Berryhill's (the
“Commissioner”) decision denying Plaintiff
Jayniece K. Sturdevant's (“Sturdevant”)
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). For the reasons set forth below, the
court adopts the R&R and affirms the Commissioner's
filed for SSI and DIB in February 2011, alleging that she
became disabled beginning May 15, 2010. Tr. 868.
Sturdevant's applications were denied initially and upon
reconsideration, and she requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). ALJ Augustus C.
Martin (“ALJ Martin” held a hearing on June 4,
2012, at which Sturdevant and a vocational expert
(“VE”) testified. Tr. 24. Sturdevant was
represented by her attorney, James Callahan
(“Callahan”), at the hearing. Id. ALJ
Martin issued a decision on July 3, 2012, finding Sturdevant
not disabled under the Social Security Act. Tr. 15-23.
Following the Appeals Council's denial of
Sturdevant's request for review, Sturdevant appealed to
the United States District Court, which reversed ALJ
Martin's decision and remanded Sturdevant's case,
directing the ALJ to address Sturdevant's alleged right
hand impairment. Tr. 865.
on subsequent claims for DIB and SSI that Sturdevant filed in
December 2013, the Appeals Council issued an order on July 2,
2015, directing the ALJ to consolidate claim files, create a
single electronic record and issue a new decision on the
consolidated claims. Tr. 879-80. A second hearing was held on
January 6, 2016 before a different ALJ, Carl Watson
(“ALJ Watson”), at which Sturdevant and a VE
testified. Tr. 739. ALJ Watson issued a decision on September
2, 2016, finding Sturdevant not disabled. Tr. 713-29.
January 19, 2017, Sturdevant initiated the current appeal to
this court. ECF No. 1. On January 29, 2018, the magistrate
judge issue the R&R recommending that this court affirm
ALJ Watson's decision. ECF No. 22. On February 13, 2018,
Sturdevant filed objections to the R&R. ECF No. 23. On
February 22, 2018, the Commissioner filed a reply. ECF No.
Sturdevant's medical history is not directly at issue
here, the court dispenses with a lengthy recitation thereof
and only notes a few relevant facts. Sturdevant was born in
1957 and was fifty-two years old at the time of her alleged
disability onset date. Tr. 235. She has passed a General
Educational Development test and has past relevant work
experience as a waitress, a fork lift operator, and a
warehouse worker. Tr. 240-41, 247. Sturdevant alleged
disability due to high blood pressure, back and leg pain,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, neuropathy of the
right hand, depression and anxiety, and other physical
ailments. Tr. 868.
the five-step sequential analysis, ALJ Watson found that
Sturdevant had not engaged in in substantial gainful activity
since her alleged disability onset date of May 15, 2010. Tr.
715. ALJ Watson also determined that Sturdevant had the
following severe impairments: mild lumbar spondylosis,
moderate central stenosis at the L4-5, and chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease with tobacco abuse.
Id. However, ALJ Watson found that Sturdevant 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 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the
“Listings”). Tr. 717. ALJ Watson further found
that Sturdevant retained the residual functional capacity
Perform less than the full range of light work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except that she cannot
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant can
occasionally climb ramps and stairs, as well as occasionally
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She must avoid
moderate exposure to smoke, fumes, odors, dust, gases, and
poor ventilation. The claimant must avoid working at
Tr. 718-19. ALJ Watson found that Sturdevant was capable of
performing past relevant work as a waitress and as a waitress
supervisor, and that this work did not require the
performance of work-related activities precluded by
Sturdevant's RFC. Tr. 728. Based on this analysis, ALJ
Watson found that Sturdevant was not disabled from the
alleged onset date through the date of the decision.