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Fludd v. Saul

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

July 16, 2019

JUANITA FLUDD, substitute claimant for Angie Bowman, deceased, Plaintiff,
ANDREW SAUL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.



         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). Angie Bowman (“Bowman”) 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 her claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI 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.


         Bowman was 46 years old on her alleged disability onset date of May 15, 2014. (R. at 14, 26, 66, 78, 143.) Bowman alleged disability due to, inter alia, lupus; rheumatoid arthritis; edema; chronic anemia; chronic Vitamin C deficiency; and muscle spasms. (Id. at 66-67, 78, 193.) Bowman has past relevant work as a forklift operator, bakery worker, and short order cook. (Id. at 26, 61-63.)

         Bowman filed an application for DIB on October 27, 2014, and an application for SSI on December 9, 2014. (Id. at 17; Dkt. No. 16 at 1-2.) Her claims were denied initially on March 9, 2015, and on reconsideration on July 17, 2015. (R. at 17, 93, 99.) After a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on May 1, 2017, (id. at 33-65), the ALJ issued a decision on July 20, 2017, and found that Bowman was not disabled (id. at 17-27).

         Bowman died in her home on August 8, 2017.[1] (Id. at 9.) On November 20, 2017, Bowman's daughter, Juanita Fludd (hereinafter referred to as “Plaintiff” or “Fludd”), was substituted as a party to her mother's claims and, on May 29, 2018, proceeded with this appeal of the ALJ's decision. (Id. at 10; Dkt. No. 1.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the DIB claim, (R. at 5-7), making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review.[2]

         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 March 31, 2019.
(2) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 15, 2014, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
(3) The claimant has the following severe impairments: lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(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, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
(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) and 416.967(b) with the following additional limitations: No. kneeling, crawling, or climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; no exposure to unprotected heights or dangerous machinery; occasional balancing, stooping, crouching, or climbing ramps or stairs; and frequent handling or fingering, bilaterally.
(6) The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
(7) The claimant was born on December 20, 1967, and was 46 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
(8) The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
(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, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
(11) The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from May 15, 2014, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

(Id. at 19-27.)

         APPLICABL ...

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