Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Myers v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia

February 28, 2018

MELISSA BETH MYERS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

          Dwane L. Tinsley United States Magistrate Judge

         Pending before this Court is Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Complaint and Motion for Remand (ECF No. 12) and Defendant's Brief in Support of Defendant's Decision (ECF No. 13). This is an action seeking remand for further explanation of the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying Claimant's application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II and supplemental security income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act for further explanation (ECF No. 12).

         Background

         Claimant, Melissa Beth Myers, filed applications for DIB and SSI on January 3, 2013. Claimant alleged disability beginning January 2, 2013. The claims were denied initially on October 1, 2013, and upon reconsideration on December 11, 2013. On February 11, 2014, Claimant filed a request for hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. A video hearing was held on September 29, 2015. Claimant appeared in Mt. Hope, West Virginia, and the Administrative Law Judge presided over the video hearing from Roanoke, Virginia. The approximately January 29, 2016, Claimant filed a Request for Review of the Decision with the Appeals Council (Tr. at 8). The Appeals Council (AC) denied Claimant's request for review on January 27, 2017 (Tr. at 6 - 9). Subsequently, Claimant brought the present action seeking judicial review of the administrative decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         Standard of Review

         Under 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).

         The Social Security Regulations establish a "sequential evaluation" for the adjudication of disability claims. 20 C.F.R. '§ 404.1520 and 416.920 (2017). If an individual is found "not disabled" at any step, further inquiry is unnecessary. Id. '' 404.1520(a) and 416.920(a). The first inquiry under the sequence is whether a claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful employment. Id. '' 404.1520(b) and 416.920(b). If the claimant is not, the second inquiry is whether claimant suffers from a severe impairment. Id. '' 404.1520(c) and 416.920(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) and 416.920(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) and 416.920(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) and 416.920(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. 1976).

         In this particular case, the ALJ determined that Claimant satisfied the first inquiry because she has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 3, 2013, the application date (Tr. at 16). Under the second inquiry, the ALJ found that Claimant suffers from the severe impairments of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)/asthma, diabetes mellitus, arthralgia in the knees and back disorder. (Id.) At the third inquiry, the ALJ concluded that Claimant's impairments do not meet or equal the level of severity of any listing in Appendix 1 (Tr. at 17). The ALJ then found that Claimant has a residual functional capacity for medium work[1] (Tr. at 18). The ALJ held that Claimant has no past relevant work; therefore, transferability of job skills is not an issue (Tr. at 20, 21). The ALJ held that Claimant could perform the jobs of a packer, warehouse worker and bagger (Tr. at 21). The ALJ denied Claimant's applications for disability on December 1, 2015 (Tr. at 22).

         Scope of Review

         The sole issue before this court is whether the final decision of the Commissioner denying the claim is supported by substantial evidence. In Blalock v. Richardson, substantial evidence was defined as:

[E]vidence which a reasoning mind would accept as sufficient to support a particular conclusion. It consists of more than a mere scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat less than a preponderance. If there is evidence to justify a refusal to direct a verdict were the case before a jury, then there is “substantial evidence.”

Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773, 776 (4th Cir. 1972) (quoting Laws v. Cellebreze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir. 1966)). Additionally, the Commissioner, not the court, is charged with resolving conflicts in the evidence. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990). Nevertheless, the courts “must not abdicate their traditional functions; they cannot escape their duty to scrutinize the record as a whole to determine whether the conclusions reached are rational.' Oppenheim v. Finch, 495 F.2d 396, 397 (4th Cir. 1974).

         A careful review of the record reveals the decision of the Commissioner is not supported by substantial evidence.

         Claimant's Background

         Claimant was born on July 3, 1978, and was 37 years old on the date of the hearing (Tr. at 33). Claimant last completed the 11th grade. Claimant lives with her daughter and her 4 year old grandson (Tr. at 43). On the date of the hearing, Claimant's son was 12 years old. Claimant's mother “helped” raise her son and he stays frequently at Claimant's mother's house (Tr. at 35-36). Claimaint's mother and aunt help taking Claimant's son to functions (Tr. at 36).

         The Medical Record

         The medical record has been adopted, as set out in the Claimant's Brief and Defendant's Brief, to the extent as follows:

Claimant underwent treatment by Dr. Durham, a pulmonologist, every three to six months during the relevant period from her alleged onset date of January 2, 2013, until December 1, 2015, the date of the ALJ's decision. During this period, Dr. Durham noted that Claimant had a history of COPD, diabetes mellitus, venous insufficiency, occasional coughing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hematuria, dysuria, dysphagia, reflux, recurrent chest infections, oral thrush, and neuropathy (Tr. at 374, 377, 380, 383, 386, 389, 393). On examination, Claimant had decreased breath sounds without rales, rhonchi, or wheezes; no percussion changes; normal chest excursions; and normal anterior-posterior diameter (Tr. at 375, 378, 381, 384, 387, 390, 394). Dr. Durham diagnosed dyspnea with environmental exposure, dyspnea at rest and with exertion, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, backache, polyneuropathy, and fatigue (Tr. at 376, 378-79, 383, 385, 388, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.