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Deloach v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

January 9, 2019

Judy Navanda Deloach, Plaintiff,
v.
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This social security matter is before the court for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to Local Civil Rule 83.VII.02 (D.S.C.). The plaintiff, Judy Navanda Deloach, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the defendant, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”), denying her claims for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). Having carefully considered the parties' submissions[1] and the applicable law, the court concludes that the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed.

         SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY GENERALLY

         Under 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A), (d)(5) and § 1382c(a)(3)(H)(i), as well as pursuant to the regulations formulated by the Commissioner, the plaintiff has the burden of proving disability, which is defined as an “inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a); see also Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773 (4th Cir. 1973). The regulations require the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to consider, in sequence:

(1) whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity;
(2) whether the claimant has a “severe” impairment;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or equals the requirements of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (“the Listings”), and is thus presumptively disabled;
(4) whether the claimant can perform her past relevant work; and
(5) whether the claimant's impairments prevent her from doing any other kind of work.

20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4).[2] If the ALJ can make a determination that a claimant is or is not disabled at any point in this process, review does not proceed to the next step. Id.

         Under this analysis, a claimant has the initial burden of showing that she is unable to return to her past relevant work because of her impairments. Once the claimant establishes a prima facie case of disability, the burden shifts to the Commissioner. To satisfy this burden, the Commissioner must establish that the claimant has the residual functional capacity, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and impairments, to perform alternative jobs that exist in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A)-(B); see also McLain v. Schweiker, 715 F.2d 866, 868-69 (4th Cir. 1983); Hall v. Harris, 658 F.2d 260, 264-65 (4th Cir. 1981); Wilson v. Califano, 617 F.2d 1050, 1053 (4th Cir. 1980). The Commissioner may carry this burden by obtaining testimony from a vocational expert. Grant v. Schweiker, 699 F.2d 189, 192 (4th Cir. 1983).

         ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

         In September 2014 and April 2016, Deloach applied for DIB and SSI, respectively, alleging disability beginning October 1, 2011. Deloach later amended her alleged onset date to February 10, 2012. Deloach's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, and she requested a hearing before an ALJ. A hearing was held on July 18, 2016 at which Deloach, who was represented by League B. Cree, Esquire, appeared and testified. After hearing testimony from a vocational expert, the ALJ issued a decision on November 23, 2016 concluding that Deloach was not disabled from February 10, 2012 through the date of the decision. (Tr. 18-25.)

         Deloach was born in 1962 and was forty-nine years old at the time of her amended alleged disability onset date. She has a high school education and has past relevant work experience as a baker, a restaurant cook, and a laundry folder. (Tr. 181.) Deloach alleged disability due to ...


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