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Norris v. Saul

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

January 14, 2020

Danielle L. Norris, Plaintiff,
v.
Andrew M. Saul, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         This action arises from Plaintiff Danielle Lashaun Norris' application to the Social Security Administration seeking Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under the Social Security Act (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. 405(g) (2019). The matter before the court is a review of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”) recommending that the court affirm the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security Administration (“the Commissioner”). (ECF No. 23 (citing ECF No. 11-2 at 14-24).) For the reasons stated below, the court ACCEPTS the Report (ECF No. 23), and AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Report sets forth the relevant facts and legal standards which this court incorporates herein without a full recitation. (ECF No. 23 at 1-7.) At the time of her alleged onset date of November 10, 2015, Plaintiff was 31 years old and living in Spartanburg, South Carolina. (ECF No. 11-6 at 1-12.) According to her initial Disability Report, Plaintiff completed the 12th grade and also completed specialized job training, trade, or vocational school at a work training center in May 2014. (Id.) Plaintiff's past relevant work experience includes production line temp agency, packer and inspector at various temp agencies, and restaurant cook. (Id.) She claims that she stopped working in July 2014 because she suffers from seizures caused by juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, joint pain, finger pain, and iritis. (Id. at 6.)

         On November 18, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI, alleging a disability onset date of November 10, 2015. (ECF No. 11-5 at 1-10.) In her SSI application, Plaintiff noted that “(e)pilepsy seizures limit my job performance. It's a devastating disease [and] [I] never know when it will strike again, when or where and how many times. It mess[es] with the brain and my body . . . I lose myself in every way. I am young and never had a good life. [I] always fear. I cannot say enough about this disease. No. surgery can fix me. It can quickly cause death. I really want my own life and to be able to work. I tried.” (ECF No. 11-6 at 21.) Her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 11-2 at 14, 30.)

         In May 2016, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (ECF No. 11-4 at 21.) A hearing to determine whether Plaintiff qualified as disabled under Section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Act was held on December 8, 2017.[1] (ECF No. 11-2 at 30-54). Plaintiff testified that she could not work because she “was diagnosed with lupus and it's hard for me to focus, hard for me to do anything. My legs hurt, my arms hurt, my back hurt. I really can't do nothing now.” (ECF No. 11-2 at 32-33.) Moreover, she testified that the medication she takes for lupus only works “sometimes” and gives her “complications, ” such as chest pain, pain in her leg and arm, feeling stiff, and being unable to concentrate. (Id. at 34.) The ALJ asked how that kept her from working and Plaintiff stated that she is asleep most of the time, and that sleeping was the only thing that helped her pain. (Id. at 34-35.) However, she claimed that she has “problems sleeping due to the stiffness in [her] joints and it hurts so bad.” (Id. at 35.) Furthermore, Plaintiff suffers from Sjogren's syndrome, which causes light sensitivity and vision problems in her right eye, but not her left eye. (Id. at 38.) Plaintiff testified that she “[b]asically sit[s] at home and hurt[s]” and that she does not “do too much of nothing” except watch T V. (Id. at 40.)

         On March 15, 2018, the ALJ issued an “Unfavorable Decision” regarding Plaintiff's SSI application, finding that:

The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 10, 2015, the application date (20 C.F.R. § 416.971 et seq.).
The claimant has the following severe impairments: systemic lupus erythematosus; sicca syndrome, chronic iritis; seizure disorder; and obesity (20 C.F.R. § 416.920(c)).
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 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(d), 416.925, 416.926).
After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(c) except she can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; never work around hazards; and her right eye fine and gross visual acuity is “limited” to “frequent.” The claimant has no past relevant work (20 C.F.R. § 416.965).
The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 C.F.R. § 416.964).
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 C.F.R. §§ 416.969, 416.969(a)).
The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since November 10, 2015, the date the application was filed (20 C.F.R. § 416.920(g)).
Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work (20 C.F.R. § 416.968).
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 C.F.R. §§ 416.969, 416.969(a)).
The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since November 10, 2015, the date the application was ...

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