United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
MEMORANDUM & RECOMMENDATION
T. Numbers, II United States Magistrate Judge.
Richard Leslie Taylor, Jr., instituted this action on
February 15, 2017, to challenge the denial of his application
for social security income. Taylor claims that Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) Katherine D. Wisz erred in (1)
finding that he had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a reduced range of light work
and thereby misapplying the Medical-Vocational Guidelines,
and (2) failing to include a limitation for Taylor's use
of an assistive device. Both Taylor and Defendant Nancy A.
Berryhill, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, have
filed motions seeking a judgment on the pleadings in their
favor. D.E. 15, 17
reviewing the parties' arguments, the court has
determined that ALJ Wisz erred in her determination. Although
she concluded Taylor's use of a handheld assistive device
was not medically necessary, evidence from one provider
appears to contradict this conclusion. As it is unclear from
the record whether Taylor required a cane to ambulate, it is
equally uncertain whether the RFC determination is supported
by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the undersigned
recommends that the court grant Taylor's motion for
judgment on the pleadings (D.E. 15), deny Berryhill's
motion for judgment on the pleadings (D.E. 17), and remand
this matter to the Commissioner for further
27, 2013, Taylor protectively filed an application for
disability benefits, alleging a disability that began on
August 29, 2013. After his claim was denied at the initial
level and upon reconsideration, Taylor appeared before ALJ
Wisz for a hearing to determine whether he was entitled to
benefits. ALJ Wisz determined Taylor was not entitled to
benefits because he was not disabled. Tr. at 19-31.
Wisz found that Taylor had several severe impairments:
hypertension, degenerative spurring of the right shoulder
humeral head, obstructive sleep apnea, degenerative joint
disease in both knees resulting in left knee replacement, and
obesity. Tr. at 21.
Wisz found that Taylor's impairments, either alone or in
combination, did not meet or equal a Listing impairment. Tr.
Wisz then determined that Taylor had the RFC to perform a
range of light work with additional limitations. Tr. at 23.
He can frequently, but not constantly, perform reaching,
feeling, handling, and grasping with his right upper
extremity (his dominant upper extremity). Id. He can
occasionally climb ladder, ropes, and scaffolds and he can
occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
Id. Taylor can have occasional exposure to hazards.
Id. Finally, he can understand, remember, and carry
out simple instructions. Id.
Wisz concluded that Taylor was incapable of performing his
past relevant work as a mechanic. Tr. at 29. But ALJ Wisz
determined that, considering Taylor's age, education,
work experience, and RFC, there were other jobs that existed
in significant numbers in the national economy that he was
capable of performing. Tr. at 30. These include: cashier,
marker, and parking lot attendant. Id. Thus, ALJ
Wisz found that Taylor was not disabled. Tr. at 31.
unsuccessfully seeking review by the Appeals Council, Taylor
commenced this action in February 2017. D.E. 5.
Standard for Review of the Acting Commissioner's Final
social security claimant appeals a final decision of the
Commissioner, the district court's review is limited to
determining whether, based on the entire administrative
record, there is substantial evidence to support the
Commissioner's findings. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).
Substantial evidence is defined as “evidence which a
reasoning mind would accept as sufficient to support a
particular conclusion.” Shively v. Heckler,
739 F.2d 987, 989 (4th Cir. 1984) (quoting Laws v.
Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir. 1966)). The
court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is
supported by substantial evidence. Smith v. Chater,
99 F.3d 635, 638 (4th Cir. 1996).
Standard for ...