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Styles v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

August 14, 2019

Yekewshia M. Styles, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) that this court affirm Acting Commissioner of Social Security Nancy A. Berryhill's (“the Commissioner”) decision denying plaintiff Yekewshia M. Styles's (“Styles”) application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). Styles filed objections to the R&R. For the reasons set forth below, the court adopts the R&R and affirms the Commissioner's decision.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Unless otherwise noted, the following background is drawn from the R&R.

         A. Procedural History

         In August 2014, Styles filed an application for SSI in which she alleged her disability began on June 28, 2014. The Social Security Agency denied Styles's claim initially and on reconsideration. Styles requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), and ALJ Sarah B. Stewart held a hearing on January 24, 2017.

         The ALJ issued a decision on July 5, 2017, finding that Styles was not disabled under the Social Security Act. The Appeals Council denied Styles's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final action of the Commissioner. On January 31, 2018, Styles filed this action seeking review of the ALJ's decision. ECF No. 1. The magistrate judge issued an R&R on March 8, 2019 recommending that this court affirm the ALJ's decision. ECF No. 15. Styles filed objections to the R&R on March 22, 2019, ECF No. 16, and the Commissioner replied to Styles's objections on April 4, 2019. ECF No. 17. The matter is now ripe for the court's review.

         B. Medical History

         Because Styles's medical history is not directly at issue here, the court dispenses with a lengthy recitation thereof and instead notes a few relevant facts. Styles was born on April 20, 1974 and was 40 years old at the time of her alleged disability onset date. She communicates in English and has a high school education. Her past relevant work experience was as a nail technician, a receptionist, and a sales associate.

         C. ALJ's Findings

         The ALJ employed the statutorily-required five-step sequential evaluation process to determine whether Styles was disabled beginning on June 28, 2014. The ALJ first determined that Styles did not engage in substantial gainful activity since her application date of August 18, 2014. At the second step, the ALJ found that Styles suffered from the following severe impairments: history of right breast cancer with lumpectomy, radiation, chemotherapy, and axillary webbing; lymphedema; anxiety; and depression. At step three, the ALJ found that Styles's impairments or combination of impairments did not meet or equal one of the listed impairments in the Agency's Listings of Impairments (“the Listings”). See 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App'x 1.

         Before reaching the fourth step, the ALJ determined Styles had the residual function capacity (“RFC”) to perform unskilled, low stress work. Tr. 18. Specifically, the ALJ found that Styles could perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except she can occasionally push/pull and

perform overhead reaching with her right upper extremity; she can frequently operate foot controls, bilaterally; she can occasionally climb stairs, ramps, ladders, ropes or scaffolds; she can occasionally stoop, crouch, kneel and crawl; she can frequently finger, bilaterally; she is limited to the performance of simple, routine and repetitive tasks; she cannot perform fast-paced production requirements and should only be required to make simple work decisions with few, if any, workplace changes; and she is limited to unskilled, low stress work.

Id. The ALJ found at step four that Styles was not capable of performing past relevant work as a nail technician, a receptionist, or a sales associate. Id. at 22. Finally, at step five, the ALJ determined that, considering Styles's age, education, work experience, and RFC, she could perform the requirements of occupations existing in significant numbers in the national economy, including an inspector, an electronics worker, and a ...


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