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McCollum v. Berryhill

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

February 13, 2019

CAROL A. MCCOLLUM, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Defendant.

          ORDER

          Thomas E. Rogers, III United States Magistrate Judge.

         This is an action brought pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 405(g), to obtain judicial review of a “final decision” of the Commissioner of Social Security, denying Plaintiff's claim for disability insurance benefits (DIB). The only issues before the Court are whether the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence and whether proper legal standards have been applied. This action is proceeding before the undersigned by voluntary consent pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed. R. Civ. Proc. R. 73.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB on April 28, 2014, alleging inability to work since January 1, 2014. (Tr. 46). Her claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing. A hearing was held on November 15, 2016, at which time Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) testified. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision on February 23, 2017, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. (Tr. 46-52). Plaintiff filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision, which the Appeals Council denied on June 15, 2017, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. Plaintiff filed this action on August 9, 2017. (ECF No. 1).

         B. Plaintiff's Background and Medical History

         Plaintiff was born on April 1, 1957, and was fifty-six years old at the time of the alleged onset. (Tr. 81). Plaintiff had past relevant work experience as a policy holder clerk. (Tr. 20). Plaintiff alleges disability originally due to tendinitis, carpal tunnel, diabetes, high blood pressure, migraines, pinched nerve in neck, both knees, shoulder problem, reflux, Dupuytren's, and problems in both feet. (Tr. 81). Only records pertinent to the issue upon which the undersigned's remand is based will be summarized under the appropriate issue heading.

         C. The ALJ's Decision

         In the decision of February 23, 2017, the ALJ made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law (Tr. 46-52):

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2016.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of January 1, 2014, through her date last insured of December 31, 2016 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: carpal tunnel syndrome and diabetes mellitus with diabetic neuropathy. (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(11), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). Specifically, the claimant was able to lift and carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently and stand, walk, and sit for 6 hours in an 8- hour day except that the claimant can frequently climb ramps and stairs but can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl, and can perform frequent handling with her dominant upper extremity. She can have occasional exposure to hazards.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was capable of performing past relevant work as a machine operator. This work did not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from January 1, 2014, the alleged onset date, through December 31, 2016, the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1520(1)).

         II. ...


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