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Gleaton v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division

July 30, 2018

Doris Lorraine Gleaton, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.


          R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Doris Lorraine Gleaton has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). This matter is now before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant, made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rules 73.02(B)(2)(a) and 83.VII.02 (D.S.C.). [ECF # 22');">22]. The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court affirm the decision of the Commissioner. [ECF #22');">22, p. 30]. This Court has thoroughly reviewed the record in this case and now issues the following Order.

         Statement of Facts and Procedural History

         This Court is tasked with reviewing the denial of Plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) on May 4, 2015, alleging a disability date of January 28, 2013 due to fibromyalgia, insomnia, mood swings, vision problems, rheumatoid arthritis, and problems with her breast and heart. [ECF #19, p. 4]. The Magistrate Judge adequately set forth Plaintiff's medical history in the R&R. [ECF #22');">22, pp. 3-11]. Briefly stated, medical records dating as far back as 2012 indicate Plaintiff received treatment for numbness and tingling in her legs, and that she had myofascial tender points above and below the waist. [ECF #10-11, Ex. 9F]. Approximately one year after Plaintiff's alleged disability date, Dr. Michael J. Huggins treated Plaintiff for anxiety and depression. [ECF #12-6, Ex. 28F]. Plaintiff's treatment notes reflect that she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, though at least one treatment note indicates that Plaintiff's rheumatologist was not sure Plaintiff actually had fibromyalgia. [ECF #11-2, Ex. 11F]. Plaintiff continually reported symptoms related to fibromyalgia in her treatment records. Plaintiff underwent a left total knee arthroplasty on April 9, 2015 and a right total knee replacement on September 17, 2015. [ECF #10-11, Ex. 9F; ECF #12-1, Ex. 20F]. She also underwent cataract surgery on her left eye on July 9, 2015 and her right eye on August 27, 2015. [ECF #12-1, Ex. 20F]. Her records also indicate Plaintiff complained of generalized pain, including back pain, hypertension, dry eye and eye irritation, and vertigo. Plaintiff's records also indicate mental issues related to anxiety and depression.

         Plaintiff applied for disability on May 4, 2015. Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. After she requested and was granted a hearing, the ALJ denied her claim on May 17, 2016. Plaintiff's request for a review by the Appeals Council was eventually denied, [1] making the findings and determination of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. The ALJ reviewed all of the medical history in the record, as well as Plaintiff's testimony at the hearing. The ALJ subsequently came up with several findings.

         The ALJ's findings were as follows:

(1) The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2019.
(2) The claimant engaged in substantial gainful activity during the following periods: March 2013 through April 2014 (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(b) and 404.1571 et seq.).
(3) However, there has been a continuous 12-month period(s) during which the claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity. The remaining findings address the period(s) the claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity.
(4) The claimant has the following severe impairments: obesity, hypertension, osteoarthritis in right foot, fibromyalgia, degenerative joint disease of the knees, status-post total knee arthroplasty and degenerative joint disease of the right shoulder (20 C.F.R. 404.1520©).
(5) 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 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
(6) After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a) except no ropes, ladders, or scaffolds, no crawling and occasional other postural.[2" name="FN2" id="FN2">2] She would be limited to no more than occasional exposure to extremes of temperatures, no direct exposure to vibrations or unprotected heights and no exposure to excessive humidity or wetness.
(7) The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a facility assistant manager, transportation assistant and greeter. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 C.F.R. 404.1565).
(8) The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from January 28, 2013 through the date of this decision (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(f)).

[ECF #10-2, pp. 53-59].

         On March 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision. [ECF #1]. Both Plaintiff and Defendant filed briefs [ECF #19, ECF #20], and the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) on May 3, 2018, recommending that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed [ECF #22');">22]. The Magistrate Judge determined that the ALJ properly addressed the relevant medical findings, as well as considered Plaintiff's testimony in determining that the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence. [ECF #22');">22, p. 29-30]. Plaintiff filed objections on May 17, 2018. [ECF #23]. Plaintiff objects to the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge based on the following arguments: (1) the ALJ failed to perform a proper analysis of the claimant's ability to perform past relevant work; (2) the ...

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