United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BRADLEY MURRAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Nick Michael Vergos brings this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security denying his claim for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits. 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. 19 (“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. 20 (endorsed order of reference by District Judge Terry
F. Moorer)). Upon consideration of the administrative record,
Plaintiff's brief, the Commissioner's brief, and the
parties' arguments at the May 20, 2019 hearing before the
undersigned, the Court concludes that the Commissioner's
decision denying benefits should be reversed and remanded for
further proceedings not inconsistent with this
protectively filed an application for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits on or about January 30,
2015, alleging disability beginning on March 26, 2014.
(See Tr. 220-26.) Vergos' claim was initially
denied on April 20, 2015 (Tr. 124 & 141-45) and,
following Plaintiff's June 17, 2015 written request for a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) (see Tr. 148-49), a hearing was
conducted before an ALJ on September 9, 2016 (Tr. 101-17). On
April 13, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding that the
claimant was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to
disability insurance benefits. (Tr. 51-79.) More
specifically, the ALJ determined that Vergos retains the
residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined
in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b), with minimal limitations,
and can, therefore, perform his past relevant light work as a
music teacher specialist (see Id. at 60 & 77).
On May 31, 2017, the Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's
unfavorable decision to the Appeals Council (Tr. 215); the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on
May 9, 2018 (Tr. 1-4). Thus, the hearing decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security.
alleges disability due to degenerative disc disease, chronic
pain syndrome, major depressive disorder, and attention
deficit disorder. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made the
following relevant findings:
3. The claimant has the following severe impairment:
degenerative disc disease (20 CFR 404.1520(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 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, and 404.1526).
. . .
5. 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 404.1567(b), except only occasional climbing, balancing
and stooping; no kneeling, crouching or crawling; and no
exposure to unprotected heights or hazardous machinery.
. . .
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work
as a music teacher specialist. This work does not require the
performance of work-related activities precluded by the
claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR
. . .
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from March 26, 2014, through the
date of ...