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Tyler v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

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

July 2, 2019

Miranda Tyler, Plaintiff,
v.
Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          R. Bryan Harwell Chief United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Miranda Tyler seeks judicial review, pursuant to Section 205(g) and 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the “Commissioner”) denying her claim for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental social security income (“SSI”) under the Social Security Act (the “Act”). The matter is before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers, III, made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge recommends the Court affirm the Commissioner's decision. [ECF #17]. Plaintiff raises several objections to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation. [ECF #19]. Defendant responded to those objections. [ECF #22].

         Factual Findings and Procedural History

          In a decision dated June 18, 2010, Plaintiff was awarded disability benefits as of June 1, 2008, as a result of congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, breast cancer with mastectomy, and diabetes. After a period of continuing review, benefits ceased effective November 2014 upon a determination that Plaintiff's health had improved and she was now able to work. Plaintiff requested a review of the decision to cease benefits. Plaintiff alleges she continues to be disabled due to congestive heart failure, nonischemic cardiomyopathy, breast cancer with mastectomy, high blood pressure, diabetes, dislocated disc with back pain, anxiety and anemia.

         According to her medical records, Plaintiff was hospitalized in 2008 with complaints of dyspnea. Testing at that time showed severe dilated cardiomyopathy with an ejection fraction of 37%.[1]She was also diagnosed with carcinoma of the right breast in 2001. She was again diagnosed with cancer in the right breast in 2009 and eventually underwent a bilateral mastectomy. [Tr. at 88, Ex. B5B]. Two ejection fractions noted in Plaintiff's January 2013 and February 2014 medical records indicate a result of 25%, which is considered abnormal. While under the care of Dr. George E. Castro, Plaintiff's records show that on March 5, 2013, she had an ejection fraction between 35% and 40% with a mildly dilated left atrium. In September of that year, her records indicate shortness of breath with moderate exertion. Later that October, Plaintiff's ejection fraction was 20 to 25% and her records indicate a severe mitral regurgitation. [Tr. 394-412, Ex. B9F]. Plaintiff continued treatment for diabetes, hypertensive heart disease with heart failure and nonischemic cardiomyopathy, and Dr. Castro recommended continued medical management. On September 24, 2014, a physician's assistant in Dr. Castro's office, Christopher C. Smith, provided a letter stating that Plaintiff had a long-standing history of nonsichemic/dilated cardiomyopathy with an ejection fraction of 35%, as well as issues with shortness of breath, lower extremity edema, orthopenea, and chronic systolic heart failure. Mr. Smith opined that Plaintiff was unable to maintain gainful employment and should be considered 100% disabled based on her cardiac condition. [Tr. 445; Ex. B15F]. On November 11, 2014, Tyler had another

(1) The most recent favorable medical decision finding that the claimant is disabled is the decision dated June 18, 2010. This is known as the “comparison point decision” or CPD.
(2) At the time of the CPD, the claimant had the following medically determinable impairments: history of left breast mastectomy secondary to breast cancer, history of chronic heart failure secondary to cardiomyopathy, and diabetes mellitus. These impairments were found to result in the residual functional capacity to be unable to perform work related activities at any exertional level on a regular and continuing basis.
(3) Through the date of the decision, the claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity. (20 CFR 404.1594(f)(1)).
(4) The medical evidence establishes that, since November 12, 2014, the claimant has had the following medically determinable impairments: history of left breast mastectomy secondary to breast cancer, history of chronic heart failure secondary to cardiomyopathy, mild degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, diabetes mellitus, sick cell trait, anemia, anxiety, hypertension, obesity, hyperlipidemia, and right carpal tunnel syndrome. These are the claimant's current impairments. (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, and 404.1526).
(5) Since November 12, 2014, the claimant has not had an impairment or combination of impairments which meets or medically equals the severity of an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.925 AND 416.926).
(6) Medical improvement occurred on November 12, 2014 (20 CFR 404.1594(b)(1) and 416.994(b)(1)(i)).
(7) Since November 12, 2014, the impairments present at the time of the CPD decreased in medical severity to the point where the claimant has had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she can occasionally climb ramps and stairs and can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme heat, cold, and humidity.
(8) The claimant's medical improvement is related to the ability to work because it has resulted in an increase in the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1594(c)(3)(ii) and 416.994(b)(2)(iv)(B)).
(9) Since November 12, 2014, the claimant has continued to have a severe impairment or combination of impairments (20 CFR 404.1594(f)(6) and 416.994(b)(5)(v)).
(10) Since November 12, 2014, based on the current impairments, the claimant has had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she can occasionally climb ramps and stairs and can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can occasionally balance and stoop, but never kneel, ...

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