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Dickinson v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Northern Division

October 16, 2018

CARLYNDA DICKINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          P. BRADLEY MURRAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Carlynda Dickinson brings this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1383(c)(3), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for supplemental security income. The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by the Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), for all proceedings in this Court. (Doc. 21 (“In accordance with provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, the parties in this case consent to have a United States magistrate judge conduct any and all proceedings in this case, . . . order the entry of a final judgment, and conduct all post-judgment proceedings.”); see also Doc. 23 (endorsed order of reference)). Upon consideration of the administrative record, Plaintiff's brief, and the Commissioner's brief, [1] the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision denying benefits should be reversed and remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this decision.[2]

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff protectively filed an application for supplemental security income on January 9, 2015, alleging disability beginning on December 17, 2014. (Compare Tr. 167-72 with Tr. 15.) Dickinson's claim was initially denied on April 2, 2015 (Tr. 93 & 97-100) and, following Plaintiff's April 23, 2015 written request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (see Tr. 101-04), a hearing was conducted before an ALJ on August 15, 2016 (Tr. 39-78). On November 21, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding that the claimant was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to supplemental security income. (Tr. 15-34.) More specifically, the ALJ proceeded to the fifth step of the five-step sequential evaluation process and determined that Dickinson retains the residual functional capacity to perform those light jobs identified by the vocational expert (“VE”) during the administrative hearing (compare Id. at 33 with Tr. 72-73). And, after the Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's unfavorable decision to the Appeals Council, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on September 15, 2017 (Tr. 1-3). Thus, the hearing decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security.

         Plaintiff alleges disability due to peripheral neuropathy, low back pain, knee pain, calluses on her feet, depression and anxiety, intellectual disability, and obesity. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made the following relevant findings:

2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: peripheral neuropathy, low back pain, diabetes mellitus, vision impairment, depression, anxiety, intellectual disability and slow learner, and obesity (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
. . .
3. 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 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
. . .
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except the claimant can lift and carry 10 pounds frequently and 20 pounds occasionally. She should have a sit/stand option every 30 minutes, if needed. She can climb; occasionally stoop, balance, kneel, crouch, and crawl; but never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can frequently reach and she can occasionally use her upper and lower extremities bilaterally for pushing and pulling. She requires a cane for an assistive device. She should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, extreme heat, wetness, and humidity. She should avoid all exposure to hazardous conditions, such as unprotected heights, dangerous machinery, and uneven surfaces. She has no visual or communicative limitations. She is expected to have 1-2 unplanned absences monthly due to her condition. She is restricted to unskilled work with no more than simple, short instructions and simple work-related decisions with few work place changes. In addition, she is limited to low stress work requiring only simple, work-related decisions with few work place changes. Due to concentration issues, the claimant is unable to work in close proximity to others and she is easily distracted.
. . .
5. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on November 15, 1980 and was 34 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was ...

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