United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
SANDRA D. COPE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Defendant.
E. ROGERS, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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.
filed an application for DIB on May 25, 2014, alleging
inability to work since May 20, 2013. (Tr. 21). Her claims
were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Thereafter,
Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing. A hearing was held
on August 11, 2016, at which time Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (VE) testified. (Tr. 21). The Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) issued an unfavorable decision on October 5, 2016,
finding that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of
the Act. (Tr. 21-33). Plaintiff filed a request for review of
the ALJ's decision, which the Appeals Council denied on
August 16, 2017, making the ALJ's decision the
Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff filed
this action on October 17, 2017. (ECF No. 1).
was born on August 13, 1963, and was forty-nine years old at
the time of the alleged onset. (Tr. 31). Plaintiff had at
least a high school education and had past relevant work
experience as a machine operator. (Tr. 31). Plaintiff alleges
disability originally due to stage 1 breast cancer, weak
heart, tachycardia, lymphodema, degenerative arthritis in
neck and back, and right shoulder impingement and possible
tear. (Tr. 75-76).
The ALJ's Decision
decision of October 5, 2016, the ALJ made the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law (Tr. 21-33):
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2019.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 20, 2013, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: spine
disorder; fibromyalgia; dysfunction of the right shoulder;
and obesity (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
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find
that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except
for the following additional limitations. The claimant is
never able to climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps, or
stairs. She is able to frequently balance; occasionally
stoop, crouch, kneel, or crawl; and perform occasional light
overhead reaching. She is able to have frequent exposure to
extreme cold and vibration, to the use of moving machinery,
and to exposure to unprotected heights.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on August 13, 1963 and was 49 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on
the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently
changed age category to closely approaching advanced age (20
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is "not disabled," whether or not
the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and
20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569 and
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from May 20, 2013, through the
date of ...