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Hardy v. Berryhill

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

January 22, 2019

JAMES HARDY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Mary Gordon Baker, Judge

         This case is before the Court for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a), D.S.C., concerning the disposition of Social Security cases in this District, and Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B). Plaintiff James Hardy (“Plaintiff”) brought this action pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended, (42 U.S.C. § 405(g)), to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security Administration (the “Administration”) regarding his claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act (the “Act”). For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned recommends that this matter be remanded for further consideration and analysis by the Commissioner.

         RELEVANT FACTS AND ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

         Plaintiff was 53 years old on his amended alleged disability onset date of January 2014. (R. at 52, 76; Dkt. No. 12 at 6.) His original alleged disability onset date was May 3, 2013.[1] (R. at 26, 76; Dkt. No. 12 at 6.) Plaintiff alleged disability due to, inter alia, arthritis in his back; herniated disc; high blood pressure; depression; and restless leg syndrome. (R. at 76.) Plaintiff has past relevant work as a restaurant manager and fast food cook. (Id. at 38, 209.)

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB on June 30, 2014. (Id. at 26, 163.) His application was denied initially on August 11, 2014, and on reconsideration on October 2, 2014. (Id. at 26, 87, 102.) After a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on July 19, 2016, (id. at 45-75), the ALJ issued a decision on September 28, 2016, in which the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled (id. at 26-39). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, (id. at 1-3), making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review.

         In making the determination that Plaintiff is not entitled to benefits, the Commissioner has adopted the following findings of the decision:

(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 May 3, 2013, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
(3) The claimant has the following severe impairments: lumbar degenerative disc disease, right wrist, obesity, and restless leg syndrome (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 and 404.1526).
(5) After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he can lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. He can stand, walk, and sit six hours in an eight hour workday. The claimant can occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds, stoop, and crawl. He can frequently climb ramps and stairs, balance, kneel, and crouch. He can frequently handle with the right upper extremity.
(6) The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a restaurant manager and cook, fast food. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565).
(7) The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from May 3, 2013, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).

(Id. at 28-38.)

         APPLICABLE LAW

         The Act provides that disability benefits shall be available to those persons insured for benefits, who are not of retirement age, who properly apply, and who are under a “disability.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(a). “Disability” is defined in the Act as the inability to “engage in 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 ...


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