United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
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, Yolanda Juanita Stevenson, 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 and the
applicable law, the court concludes that the
Commissioner's decision should be affirmed.
SECURITY DISABILITY GENERALLY
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
(2) whether the claimant has a “severe”
(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;
(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). 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.
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).
August 2014, Stevenson applied for DIB and SSI, alleging
disability beginning December 31, 2008. Stevenson's
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration,
and she requested a hearing before an ALJ. A hearing was held
on February 7, 2017 at which Stevenson, who was represented
by W. Blake Cummings, Esquire, appeared and testified. The
ALJ also heard testimony from a vocational expert. Subsequent
to the hearing, Stevenson amended her alleged disability
onset date to March 1, 2014. The ALJ issued a decision on
April 19, 2017 concluding that Stevenson was not disabled
from March 1, 2014 through the date of the decision. (Tr.
was born in 1966 and was forty-seven years old at the time of
her amended alleged disability onset date. She has an
eighth-grade education and has past relevant work experience
as a salesperson and a security guard. (Tr. 208.) Stevenson
alleged disability due to depression, breathing problems, and
high blood pressure. (Tr. 207.)
applying the five-step sequential process, the ALJ found that
Stevenson had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since her amended alleged onset date of March 1, 2014. The
ALJ also determined that Stevenson's history of affective
disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety
disorder were severe impairments. However, the ALJ found that
Stevenson 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 (the “Listings”). The ALJ found, after
consideration of the entire record, that Stevenson retained
the residual functional capacity to
perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but
with the following nonexertional limitations: limited to
simple, routine, and repetitive tasks performed in a work
environment free of fast-paced production requirements;
involving only simple, work-related decisions; and few, if
any, workplace changes. The claimant is capable of learning
simple vocational tasks and completing them at an adequate
pace with persistence in a vocational setting. She can
perform simple tasks for two-hour blocks of time with normal
rest breaks during an eight-hour workday with only occasional
interaction with the public and co-workers.
(Tr. 16.) The ALJ found that Stevenson was unable to perform
any past relevant work, but that considering Stevenson's
age, education, work experience, and residual functional
capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers
in the national economy that Stevenson could perform.
Therefore, the ALJ found that ...