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Burton v. Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration

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

January 17, 2019

Rhonda Corine Burton, Plaintiff,
v.
Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          R. BRYAN HARWELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Rhonda Corine Burton 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 supplemental security income (“SSI”). This matter is now before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker, 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 # 23]. The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court remand the matter back to the Commissioner for further proceedings. This Court has thoroughly reviewed the record in this case and now issues the following Order.

         Statement of Facts and Procedural History

         Plaintiff was born on October 26, 1971 and was twenty-seven years old on the date of the alleged onset of disability. Plaintiff initially applied for supplemental security income (“SSI”) on October 24, 2013, alleging a disability date of January 1, 1998. She alleges she became disabled due to obesity, gastroparesis, status post fusion of the lumbar spine, anxiety, panic disorder, and major depressive disorder, among other ailments. [ECF #14]. Throughout the course of the time period covered in this action, Dr. Leah Trantham of Goose Creek Family Practice has been Plaintiff's primary physician. Plaintiff's medical history is extensively documented in the record. Briefly stated, Plaintiff suffers from depression, anxiety, obesity and nausea that she has been treated for since 2012. [ECF #9-9, Ex. 5F]. In April of 2013, Plaintiff began receiving treatment for abdominal pain. Testing in July of 2013 revealed esophagitis, gastroparesis, and a small hiatal hernia. [ECF #9-7, Ex. 2F]. Plaintiff's issues with gastroparesis continued after this time. In August of 2013, Plaintiff was also diagnosed with diabetes. On October 7, 2013, after Plaintiff was sent for issues related to nausea, she was diagnosed with diabetic gastroparesis, getting progressively worse. [ECF #9-8, Ex 4F]. In addition to the persistence of these problems, her mental health issues continued. Dr. Trantham noted in one record that Plaintiff's low back pain issue were currently on the backburner due to her other issues. Dr. Trantham felt strongly that Plaintiff needed a psychiatric evaluation. [ECF #9-9, Ex. 5F]. Devin Black, B.S. provided treatment to Plaintiff in November of 2014, noting that Plaintiff had major depressive disorder, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. [ECF #9-10, Ex. 15F]. Plaintiff continued treatment for these conditions, as well as for other conditions, during the course of the next few years.

         After obtaining an unfavorable decision from the Administrative Law Judge on May 26, 2016, Plaintiff requested a review from the Appeals Council, but this request was denied, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. [ECF #17');">17, p. 2].

         The ALJ's findings were as follows:

(1) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 24, 2013, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
(2) The claimant has the following severe impairments: obesity, gastroparesis, status post fusion of the lumbar spine, anxiety, panic disorder, and major depressive disorder (20 C.F.R. 404.920(c)).
(3) 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. 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
(4) After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except she can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can have no exposure to unprotected heights. The claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to dusts, odors, fumes, pulmonary irritants, extreme cold, and extreme heat. She is limited to the performance of simple, routine tasks. The claimant can interact and respond appropriately to supervisors, coworkers, and the public on an occasional basis. The claimant's use of judgment and ability to deal with changes in the work setting are limited to simple, work-related decisions. In addition to normal breaks, the claimant is expected to be off task up to 10 percent of the time in an 8-hour workday. She requires a sit/stand option defined as a brief postural change at or near the work station up to a maximum duration of 5 minutes twice in one hour.
(5) The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
(6) The claimant was born on October 26, 1971, and was 41 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the date the application was filed. The claimant subsequently changed age category to a younger individual age 45-49 (20 CFR 416.963).
(7) The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
(8) Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant ...

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