United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
CEDRIC E. DAMERON, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
KENNETH D. BELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Cedric E.
Dameron's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 12) and
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 15), as
well as the parties' briefs and exhibits. Plaintiff,
through counsel, seeks judicial review of an unfavorable
administrative decision denying Dameron's application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”).
reviewed and considered the written arguments, administrative
record, and applicable authority, and for the reasons set
forth below, the Court finds that Defendant's decision to
deny Dameron's Social Security benefits does not
sufficiently permit the Court to determine if the decision is
supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly,
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is
GRANTED in part; Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment is DENIED; and the
Commissioner's decision is VACATED and
REMANDED for further proceedings consistent
with this Order.
applied for disability benefits on May 13, 2013, alleging
disability beginning May 13, 2013. (Tr. 20,
185). His application was denied at the initial
and reconsideration levels. (Tr. 20, 101, 117). After
conducting a hearing on March 9, 2017, Administrative Law
Judge Theresa R. Jenkins (“ALJ”) denied his
application in a decision dated July 3, 2017. (Tr. 20, 34).
The Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. 1-6).
The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of
the Commissioner, and Dameron has requested judicial review.
reasons stated below, the Court reverses and remands the
THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION
used the required five-step sequential evaluation process
established by the Social Security Administration to
determine if Dameron was disabled under the law during the
relevant period. At step one, the ALJ found that Dameron
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 13,
2013. (Tr. 22, Finding 1). At step two, the ALJ found that
Dameron had the following severe impairments: anxiety with
panic, depression, bipolar disorder with psychotic features,
and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (Tr. 22, Finding
2). The ALJ considered Dameron's impairments under
listings in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 at step
three and found that they did not meet or medically equal any
listing. (Tr. 22, Finding 3).
four, the ALJ found that Dameron has the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of
work at all exertional levels but imposed the following
[T]he claimant should avoid workplace hazards, such as
ladders, ropes, scaffolds, unprotected heights, and machinery
with dangerous parts; is able to follow short, simple
instructions (not detailed), and perform routine tasks, but
should have no work requiring a production rate or demand
pace. The claimant is able to sustain attention and
concentration for two hours at a time; frequently, but not
continuously, interact with coworkers and supervisors, but
should have no public contact or interactions. The claimant
should avoid work environments dealing with crisis
situations, complex decision making, or constant changes in a
(Tr. 24). The ALJ further found that while Dameron had no
past relevant work, considering his age, education, work
experience, and RFC, he can perform other jobs that exist in
significant number in the national economy. (Tr. 33, Finding
5 & Finding 9). The vocational expert (VE) testified that
Dameron would be able to perform jobs such as routing clerk,
marker, and router. (Tr. 33).
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and §
1383(c)(3), limits this Court's review of a final
decision of the Commissioner to: (1) whether substantial
evidence supports the Commissioner's decision,
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390, 401
(1971); and (2) whether the Commissioner applied the correct
legal standards. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453,
1456 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Hunter v. Sullivan,
993 F.2d 31, 34 (4th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). The District
Court does not review a final decision of the Commissioner
de novo. Smith v. Schweiker, 795 F.2d 343,
345 (4th Cir. 1986); King v. Califano, 599 F.2d 597,
599 (4th Cir. 1979); Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d
773, 775 (4th Cir. 1972).
Social Security Act provides that “[t]he findings of
the [Commissioner] as to any fact, if supported by
substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). In Smith v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1176,
1179 (4th Cir. 1986) (quoting Richardson v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, ...