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Crews v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

March 29, 2019

TONY CREWS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THOMAS D. SCHROEDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Tony Crews brought this action pursuant to the Social Security Act (the “Act”) to obtain judicial review of a final decision of Defendant, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and granting his claim for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) as of November 7, 2014. (Doc. 2.) Defendant has filed the certified administrative record (Doc. 8 (cited herein as “Tr.”)), [1] and both parties have moved for judgment (Docs. 10, 12; see also Doc. 11 (Plaintiff's Memorandum); Doc. 13 (Defendant's Memorandum)). For the reasons that follow, the court will remand this matter for further administrative proceedings.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, alleging an onset date of May 1, 2008. (Tr. 174-88.) Upon denial of his DIB claim initially (Tr. 86-95, 107-110) and on reconsideration (Tr. 96-106, 112-15), [2]Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Tr. 117-18). Plaintiff, his attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 42.) The ALJ subsequently denied Plaintiff's DIB claim but granted Plaintiff's SSI claim as of November 7, 2014. (Tr. 17-34.) The Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6, 172-73, 260-62), thereby making the ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review.

         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, 2012.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
3. Since the alleged onset date of disability, May 1, 2008, [Plaintiff] has had the following severe impairments: coronary artery disease (CAD); diabetes mellitus type 2; congestive heart failure (CHF); history of small bowel resection; chronic obstruction [sic]
pulmonary disease (COPD); stage III kidney disease; lumbar spine degenerative disc disease; cervical spine degenerative disc disease; peripheral neuropathy; depression; and cognitive disorder.
4. Since the alleged onset date of disability, May 1, 2008, [Plaintiff] has not had 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.
5. . . . [P]rior to November 7, 2014, the date [Plaintiff] became disabled, [he] had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work . . . with lifting or carrying 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, sitting six hours total in an eight-hour workday, standing or walking two hours total in an eight-hour workday, pushing or pulling to the extent he can lift or carry, and the following exceptions: occasionally climbing ramps or stairs; never climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; frequently balancing, crouching, or stooping; occasionally kneeling or crawling; avoiding more than frequent exposure to unprotected heights and moving mechanical parts; avoiding more than frequent exposure [to] dusts, odors, fumes, gases, extreme heat, or extreme cold; and requiring the option to alternate after 15 to 30 minutes of sitting to standing for 5 to 10 minutes, after 15 to 30 minutes of standing to sitting for 10 to 15 minutes, and after 15 to 30 minutes of walking to sitting for 5 to 10 minutes. Additionally, due to mental impairment, [Plaintiff] is able to do the following: perform simple, routine, and repetitive tasks; understand simple oral instructions; never operate a motor vehicle; make simple work-related decisions; and frequently respond to coworkers and the public.
6. . . . [B]eginning on November 7, 2014, [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work . . . with lifting or carrying 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, sitting six hours total in an eight-hour workday, standing or walking two hours total in an eight-hour workday, pushing or pulling to the extent he can lift or carry, and the following exceptions: occasionally climbing ramps or stairs; never climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; frequently balancing, crouching, or stooping; occasionally kneeling or crawling; avoiding more than frequent exposure to unprotected heights and moving mechanical parts; avoiding more than frequent exposure [to] dusts, odors, fumes, gases, extreme heat, or extreme cold; and requiring the option to alternate after 15 to 30 minutes of sitting to standing for 5 to 10 minutes, after 15 to 30 minutes of standing to sitting for 10 to 15 minutes, and after 15 to 30 minutes of walking to sitting for 5 to 10 minutes. Additionally, due to mental impairment, [Plaintiff] is able to do the following: perform simple, routine, and repetitive tasks; understand simple oral instructions; never operate a motor vehicle; make simple work-related decisions; and frequently respond appropriately to coworkers and the public. Additionally, due to a combination of impairments, [Plaintiff] is limited to work that permits him to be off-task 20% of the workday, in addition to regularly scheduled breaks.
7. Since May 1, 2008, [Plaintiff] has been unable to perform any past relevant work.
11. Prior to November 7, 2014, considering [Plaintiff's] age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant No. in the national economy that [Plaintiff] could have performed.
12. Beginning on November 7, 2014, considering [Plaintiff's] age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are no jobs that exist in significant No. in the national economy that [Plaintiff] can perform.
13. [Plaintiff] was not disabled prior to November 7, 2014, but became disabled on that date and has continued to be disabled ...

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