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Mood v. Berryhill

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

November 19, 2018

KARLETTA VIRGINIA MOOD, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on United States Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) that this court affirm Acting Commissioner of Social Security Nancy A. Berryhill's (“the Commissioner”) decision denying plaintiff Karletta Virginia Mood's (“Mood”) application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). Mood filed objections to the R&R. For the reasons set forth below, the court rejects the R&R, reverses the Commissioner's decision, and remands for further administrative proceedings.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Unless otherwise noted, the following background is drawn from the R&R.

         A. Procedural History

         On August 29, 2013, Mood filed an application for DIB in which she alleged her disability began on June 30, 2010.[1] The Social Security Agency denied Mood's claim initially and on reconsideration. Mood requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), and ALJ Marcus Christ held a hearing on November 23, 2015.

         The ALJ issued a decision on January 28, 2016, finding that Mood was not disabled under the Social Security Act. The Appeals Council denied Mood's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final action of the Commissioner. On July 10, 2017, Mood filed this action seeking review of the ALJ's decision. The magistrate judge issued an R&R on August 24, 2018, recommending that this court affirm the ALJ's decision. Mood filed objections to the R&R on September 6, 2018, and the Commissioner responded to Mood's objections on September 20, 2018. The matter is now ripe for the court's review.

         B. Medical History

         Because Mood's medical history is not directly at issue here, the court dispenses with a lengthy recitation thereof and instead notes a few relevant facts. Mood was born on December 8, 1982 and was 27 years old at the time of her alleged disability onset date. She communicates in English and has a high school education plus two years of college education. Her past relevant work experience was as a machine operator, store laborer, sales clerk, and general inspector.

         C. ALJ's Findings

         The ALJ employed the statutorily-required five-step sequential evaluation process to determine whether Mood was disabled from June 30, 2010 through the date last insured, June 30, 2014. The ALJ first determined that Mood did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period at issue. Tr. 29. At the second step, the ALJ found that Mood suffered from the following severe impairments: deep venous thrombosis and obesity. Id. At step three, the ALJ found that Mood's impairments or combination of impairments did not meet or equal one of the listed impairments in the Agency's Listings of Impairments (“the Listings”). Id.; see 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App'x 1.

         Before reaching the fourth step, the ALJ determined Mood had the residual function capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work with several limitations. Tr. 30- 33. Specifically, the ALJ found that Mood could only engage in sedentary work without climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; she could occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch; she needed to avoid working at unprotected heights; and she needed to use a hand held assistive device for uneven terrain or prolonged ambulation. Id. The ALJ found at step four that Mood was not capable of performing past relevant work as a machine operator, store laborer, sales clerk, or general inspector. Tr. 33. Finally, at step five, the ALJ determined that, considering Mood's age, education, work experience, and RFC, she could perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, and concluded that she was not disabled during the period in issue. Tr. 33-34.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This court is charged with conducting a de novo review of any portion of the magistrate judge's R&R to which specific, written objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). A party's failure to object is accepted as agreement with the conclusions of the magistrate judge. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149-50 (1985). The recommendation of the magistrate judge carries no presumptive weight, and the ...


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