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Greathouse v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Elkins

October 10, 2017

JOELLE GREATHOUSE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOHN PRESTON BAILEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On this day, the above-styled matter came before this Court for consideration of the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge James E. Seibert [Doc. 17]. Pursuant to this Court's local rules, this action was referred to Magistrate Judge Seibert for submission of a proposed report and recommendation (“R&R”). Magistrate Judge Seibert filed his R&R on August 28, 2017, wherein he recommends that the plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 12] be denied, that the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 14] be granted, that the decision of the Commissioner be affirmed, and that this case be dismissed with prejudice. (Id.). On September 1, 2017, the plaintiff timely filed objections to the R&R [Doc. 18]. For the reasons set forth below, this Court adopts Magistrate Judge Seibert's R&R.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 13, 2013, the plaintiff filed a Title II application for a Period of Disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), and a Title XVI application for supplemental security income (“SSI”) [Doc. 9-2 at 25]. In both applications, the claimant alleged disability beginning August 20, 2012. (Id.). The claims were initially denied on October 22, 2013 (Id.). The plaintiff then filed a written request for hearing, and later appeared and testified at a video hearing on November 5, 2015, before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Emily Ruth Statum. (Id. at 38). On February 1, 2016, the ALJ entered a decision finding that the plaintiff was not disabled under Sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act. (Id.).

         After careful consideration of the entire record, and in accordance with the five-step evaluation process described in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 29, 2013, when she stopped working. (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: myasthenia gravis, obesity (BMI of 33.8), left foot calcaneal spurs, occipital headaches, moderate major depressive disorder, and an adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety. (20 C.F.R. §§ 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 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined by the social security regulations, requiring lifting and carrying 20 pounds, occasionally and 10 pounds, frequently, standing or walking 6 hours in an 8 hour workday, sitting about 6 hours in an 8 hour workday, unlimited pushing and pulling, occasionally climbing ramps or stairs, no climbing of ladders, ropes, scaffolds, occasionally balancing, occasionally stooping, occasionally kneeling, crouching or crawling, avoiding a concentrated exposure to the extremes of heat or cold, or vibration, or hazards (machinery or heights) and performing simple unskilled work.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a housekeeper and a janitor. These occupations do not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity. (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from August 20, 2012, through the date of this decision. (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)).

(Id.).

         On May 23, 2016, the Appeals Council denied the plaintiff's request for review, which made the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security [Doc. 9-2 at 2]. On July 21, 2016, the plaintiff filed the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security for denying the plaintiff's application [Doc. 1]. The R&R recommends affirming the decision of the ALJ because that decision complied with the applicable law and regulations and was supported by substantial evidence [Doc. 17 at 9].

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court must conduct a de novo review of any portion of the magistrate judge's recommendation to which objection is timely made. As to those portions of a recommendation to which no objection is made, a magistrate judge's findings and recommendation will be upheld unless they are “clearly erroneous.” See Webb v. Califano, 458 F.Supp. 825 (E.D. Cal. 1979). Because the plaintiff filed timely ...


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