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Goodwin v. Saul

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

July 19, 2019

THOMAS LEE GOODWIN, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MARY GORDON BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         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). Plaintiff Thomas Lee Goodwin (“Plaintiff”) 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 his claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II 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.

         RELEVANT FACTS AND ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

         Plaintiff was 38 years old on his alleged disability onset date of May 13, 2007. (R. at 67, 82.) Plaintiff alleged disability due to, inter alia, back pain; plantar fasciitis; mood disorder; high blood pressure; migraines; and arthritis in his spine. (Id. at 67.) Plaintiff has no past relevant work. (Id. at 928.)

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB on July 25, 2013.[1] (Id. at 67.) His application was denied initially on October 11, 2013, and on reconsideration on February 7, 2014. (Id. at 82, 97.) A hearing was held on July 7, 2014, before Administrative Law Judge Arthur L. Conover (the “ALJ”). (Id. at 32-66.) On July 30, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision and found that Plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 12-27.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on November 3, 2014. (Id. at 5-7.)

         On March 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division, seeking review of the ALJ's decision. (See C/A No. 2:15-cv-01386-RBH-MGB, Dkt. No. 1.) On December 8, 2015, this Court remanded Plaintiff's case to the Appeals Council for further consideration and analysis. (R. at 1015.) Additional hearings were held before the ALJ on July 12, 2016, (id. at 976-81), and January 9, 2017, (id. at 948-75). On March 6, 2017, Plaintiff amended his alleged disability onset date from May 13, 2007, to November 5, 2010. (Id. at 1110.) On April 4, 2017, the ALJ issued a second decision and again found that Plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 910-30.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review. (Id. at 902-05.)

         In making the determination that Plaintiff is not entitled to benefits, the Commissioner has adopted the following findings of the ALJ's 2017 decision:

(1) The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2013.
(2) The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from his amended alleged onset date of November 5, 2010, through his date last insured of December 31, 2013 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
(3) Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, depressive disorder, plantar fasciitis, and migraine headaches (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(d), 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 simple, routine tasks at the light exertional level as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except work requiring climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; kneeling; crawling; exposure to large crowds; interaction with the general public; interaction with the public as customers; interaction with more than a small group of co-workers; exposure to loud background noise; or concentrated exposure to harsh environmental irritants, unprotected heights, or dangerous machinery; or more than occasional pushing or pulling with the legs, overhead reaching with both arms, stooping, crouching, balancing, or climbing ramps or stairs. The claimant's workplace must be an indoor, temperature-controlled environment. His work must permit him to alternate between sitting and standing positions at 35 to 45 minute intervals. The mental limitations result from a combination of the claimant's mental impairment, pain, and reported medication side effects.
(6) Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
(7) The claimant was born on June 7, 1968 and was 45 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1563).
(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 transferrable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
(10) Through the dated [sic] last insured, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant No. in the national economy that the claimant ...

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