United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
JOANDREA L. GALLOWAY, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. PATRICK AULD, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff brought this action under the Social Security Act (the "Act") to obtain judicial review of a final decision of Defendant denying Plaintiff's claim(s) for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). (Docket Entry 2.) The Court has before it the certified administrative record (Docket Entry 9 (cited as "Tr. ___")), as well as the parties' cross-motions for judgment (Docket Entries 10, 12). For the reasons that follow, the Court should remand this case for further administrative proceedings.
Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, alleging a disability onset date of February 12, 2011. (Tr. 190-200.) Upon denial initially (Tr. 89-120) and on reconsideration (Tr. 121-56), she requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") (Tr. 10). Plaintiff, her then-attorney, and a vocational expert ("VE") attended the hearing (on February 6, 2013), at which Plaintiff amended her alleged onset date to June 14, 2011. (Tr. 53-88.) On March 29, 2013, the ALJ ruled Plaintiff not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 15-26.) The Appeals Council subsequently denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review. (Tr. 1-4.)
In rendering that disability determination, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:
1. [Plaintiff] meets the insured status requirements of the  Act through December 31, 2016.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since... the amended alleged onset date.
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: intercranial [sic] hypertension; headaches secondary to pseudotumor cerebri; chronic pain syndrome/pain disorder; occipital neuralgia; post motor vehicle accident with spleen laceration and rib fractures; tendonitis of the left foot; dysthmyic disorder; anxiety; identity problems/disorder; borderline intellectual functioning; and obesity.
4. [Plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5.... [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) with lifting up to 20 pounds occasionally and lifting or carrying up to 10 pounds frequently; standing or walking for approximately 4 hours per 8 hour workday and sitting for approximately 4 to 6 hours per 8 hour workday with normal breaks; pushing/ pulling with bilateral upper extremities frequently; operating foot controls with the lower extremities frequently on the right and occasionally on the left, never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; climb ramps and stairs up to 1/2 workday, or four hours out of an 8-hour workday; frequently balance, occasionally stoop, kneel and crawl; never crouch; avoid concentrated noise and hazards...; limited to occupations which do not involve exposure to direct sunlight (does not include the normal exposure incurred traveling to and from work); limited to occupations that which do not require complex written or verbal communication or frequent telephone communication; fast paced production requirements and involving only simple, work-related decision and few if any work place changes that are introduced gradually; only occasional interaction with the public; and can be around co-workers throughout the day but with only occasional interaction with co-workers.
6. [Plaintiff] is unable to perform any past relevant work.
10. Considering [Plaintiff's] age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that [Plaintiff] can perform.
11. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined in the  Act, from [the amended alleged onset date] ...