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, Sonjie Davis, 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 remanded for further
consideration as explained below.
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:
whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
whether the claimant has a “severe” impairment;
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;
whether the claimant can perform her past relevant work; and
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).
September 2014, Davis applied for DIB and SSI, alleging
disability beginning July 11, 2014. Davis's applications
were denied initially and upon reconsideration, and she
requested a hearing before an ALJ. A hearing was held on
April 12, 2017, at which Davis appeared and testified and was
represented by Paul T. McChesney, Esquire. After hearing
testimony from a vocational expert, the ALJ issued a decision
on September 7, 2017, concluding that Davis was not disabled
from July 11, 2014 through the date of the decision. (Tr.
was born in 1968 and was forty-six years old at the time of
her alleged disability onset date. She has a high school
education and has past relevant work experience as a data
entry clerk, a lay up operator at a factory, and a machine
operator at a sprinkler company. (Tr. 277.) Davis alleged