United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
L. TINSLEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before this Court are Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support
of Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF No. 10), Defendant's
Brief in Support of Defendant's Decision (ECF No.11) and
Plaintiff's Reply to Brief in Support of Defendant's
Decision (ECF No. 12).
December 12, 2011, Delana Lynn Turley, Claimant, filed a
Title II application for disability insurance benefits,
alleging disability beginning November 30, 2009. The
application was denied initially on May 11, 2012, and upon
reconsideration on June 19, 2012. On July 9, 2012, Claimant
filed a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge. A hearing was held on July 25, 2013. On October 2,
2013, the Administrative Law Judge denied Claimant's
decision. Claimant did not appeal the ALJ's decision.
November 15, 2013, Claimant applied for disability and
disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II. Claimant
alleges that her disability began on November 30, 2009. Her
DIB application was denied initially on March 22, 2014, and
upon consideration on August 6, 2014 (Tr. at 125- 139). On
September 10, 2014, Claimant filed a request for a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
October 16, 2014, Claimant applied for supplemental security
income (SSI) under Title XVI. Claimant alleged that her
disability began on November 30, 2009. The SSI application
was escalated to the hearing level to be adjudicated with her
DIB claim (Tr. at 186-191).
20, 2016, an ALJ presided over a video hearing from Kansas
City, Missouri. Claimant appeared from Charleston, West
Virginia. On July 25, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision stating
that he found no basis upon which to reopen Claimant's
prior DIB Title II application (Tr. at 20). The ALJ stated
that he considered Social Security Ruling 91-5p and found that it
does not apply to Claimant's DIB application. Therefore,
the ALJ held “[T]his application will only consider the
time period from October 3, 2013, forward, or one day
subsequent to the date of the last Administrative Law Judge
decision (20 CFR 404.957(c)(1))”. (Id.) The
ALJ found that “the previous determination on the Title
II application is final and binding from December 12,
2011.” (Id.) The ALJ found that based on
Claimant's application for DIB filed on November 15,
2013, Claimant is not disabled under sections 216(i) and
223(d) of the Social Security Act (Tr. at 32).
regards to Claimant's SSI application, the ALJ stated
“I note the claimant's subsequent Title XVI
application for supplemental security income on October 16,
2014, which was escalated to the hearing level.” On
July 25, 2016, the ALJ found that based on Claimant's
application for SSI filed on October 16, 2014, Claimant is
not disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social
Security Act. (Id.) After receiving an extension of
time, Claimant requested review by the Appeals Council (AC)
of the ALJ's decision (Tr. at 15). On January 20, 2017,
the AC denied Claimant's request for review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
Claimant filed the instant action seeking judicial review and
requesting remand of the ALJ's decision.
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(5), a claimant for disability has the
burden of proving a disability. See Blalock v.
Richardson, 483 F.2d 773, 774 (4th Cir. 1972). A
disability is defined as the "inability to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable impairment which can be expected to last for a
continuous period of not less than 12 months . . . ." 42
U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
Social Security Regulations establish a "sequential
evaluation" for the adjudication of disability claims.
20 C.F.R.' 404.1520 (2017). If an individual is found
"not disabled" at any step, further inquiry is
unnecessary. Id. ' 404.1520(a). The first
inquiry under the sequence is whether a claimant is currently
engaged in substantial gainful employment. Id. '
404.1520(b). If the claimant is not, the second inquiry is
whether claimant suffers from a severe impairment.
Id. ' 404.1520(c). If a severe impairment is
present, the third inquiry is whether such impairment meets
or equals any of the impairments listed in Appendix 1 to
Subpart P of the Administrative Regulations No. 4.
Id. ' 404.1520(d). If it does, the claimant is
found disabled and awarded benefits. Id. If it does
not, the fourth inquiry is whether the claimant's
impairments prevent the performance of past relevant work.
Id. ' 404.1520(e). By satisfying inquiry four,
the claimant establishes a prima facie case of
disability. Hall v. Harris, 658 F.2d 260, 264 (4th
Cir. 1981). The burden then shifts to the Commissioner,
McLain v. Schweiker, 715 F.2d 866, 868-69 (4th Cir.
1983), and leads to the fifth and final inquiry: whether the
claimant is able to perform other forms of substantial
gainful activity, considering claimant's remaining
physical and mental capacities and claimant's age,
education and prior work experience. 20 C.F.R.'
404.1520(f) (2017). The Commissioner must show two things:
(1) that the claimant, considering claimant's age,
education, work experience, skills and physical shortcomings,
has the capacity to perform an alternative job, and (2) that
this specific job exists in the national economy.
McLamore v. Weinberger, 538 F.2d 572, 574 (4th Cir.
claimant alleges a mental impairment, the Social Security
Administration “ must follow a special technique at
every level in the administrative review process.” 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520a(a) and 416.920a(a). First, the
SSA evaluates the claimant's pertinent symptoms, signs
and laboratory findings to determine whether the claimant has
a medically determinable mental impairment and documents its
findings if the claimant is determined to have such an
impairment. Second, the SSA rates and documents the degree of
functional limitation resulting from the impairment according
to criteria as specified in 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520a(c) and 416.920a(c). Those sections provide as
Rating the degree of ...