United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
GORDON BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Baker, on behalf of her now deceased husband and through
counsel, brought this action to obtain judicial review of an
unfavorable final administrative decision denying benefits on
William Dale Baker's May 1, 2013 applications for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under the
Social Security Act (“Act”). See Section
205(g) of the SSA, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 405(g). This
matter was referred to the Magistrate Judge for a Report and
Recommendation pursuant to Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a), D.S.C.,
and Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B). For
the reasons stated herein, the undersigned recommends that
the Commissioner's decision be reversed and remanded for
a new hearing.
History and ALJ's Findings
Plaintiff was born June 30, 1964, and was 47 years old on the
alleged onset of disability date, February 19,
2012. (R. 179, 191.) The Plaintiff filed for DIB
and SSI May 1, 2013. (Id.) The Plaintiff claimed
disability due to diabetes and related symptoms, joint
problems, and hypertension. (R. 66.) The Plaintiff's
claims were initially denied and denied on reconsideration.
(R.126, 137.) The Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) held a hearing on February 18, 2015. (R.
53.) The ALJ issued his Decision on April 2, 2015, finding
that the Plaintiff was not disabled under the Act. (R.
35-47.) The Plaintiff died the same day. (R. 26-28.) The
Plaintiff's wife, Heather Baker, now appears as a
substitute party. (Id.)
Baker appealed the ALJ's Decision to the Appeals Council
(“AC”). (R. 18.) The AC partially reversed the
ALJ's Decision, finding that the Plaintiff was limited to
sedentary work and disabled as of June 29, 2014, when the
Plaintiff turned fifty (50) years old. (R. 5-9.) Therefore,
the appeal now before the court concerns only the denial of
benefits from February 19, 2012, through June 28, 2014. (Dkt.
Nos. 18 at 2; 19 at 2; R. 6.)
the period relevant for this appeal, the ALJ's Decision
is now the Commissioner's final action for purposes of
judicial review. In making the determination that the
Plaintiff is not entitled to benefits, the Commissioner
adopted the following findings of the ALJ's April 2, 2015
(1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2017.
(2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since February 19, 2012, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
(3) The claimant has the following severe impairments:
obesity; skin ulcers; diabetes with neuropathy; anxiety
disorder; and major depressive disorder. (20 CFR 404.1520(c)
(4) The claimant does not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925, and 416.926).
(5) After careful consideration of the entire record, I find
that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b). Specifically, the claimant can lift and carry up
to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently and stand,
walk, and sit for 6 hours each in an 8-bour work day;
however, the claimant cannot climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds. He can frequently kneel and occasionally climb
ramps and stairs, crouch, and crawl. The claimant is limited
to jobs that can be performed while using a hand-held
assistive device only for uneven terrain or prolonged
ambulation. He must avoid concentrated exposure to excessive
vibration, extreme heat, wetness or humidity, and unprotected
heights. Additionally, the claimant is limited to simple,
routine, repetitive tasks with only occasional interaction
with the public.
(6) The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
(7) The claimant was born on June 30, 1964 and was 47 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on
the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently
changed age category to closely approaching advanced age. (20
CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
(8) The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416-964).
(9) Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41
and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
(10) Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a),
416.969, and 416.969(a)).
(11) The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from February 19, 2012, through
the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f) and