United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. CARACAPPA, UNITED STATES CHIEF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Barry Gieb brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
seeking judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
denying plaintiff's claims for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title II and Title XVI of the Act.
Presently before this court are plaintiff's request for
review, the Commissioner's response, and plaintiff's
reply. For the reasons set forth below, we recommend that
plaintiff's request for review be GRANTED in part.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
is a 57-year old man born on May 5, 1960. (Tr. 20). Plaintiff
has a high school education and past relevant work as a
maintenance mechanic. (Tr. 200).
November 15, 2013, plaintiff filed applications for DIB and
SSI. (Tr. 142-155). Plaintiff's alleged disability onset
date was October 23, 2012. (Tr. 13). Plaintiff's
applications were initially denied at the state level on
March 24, 2014. (Tr. 61-78). Plaintiff subsequently requested
a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
August 18, 2015, ALJ Daniel Myers held a hearing. (Tr.
27-60). On September 4, 2015, ALJ Myers found plaintiff not
disabled under the Act, from October 23, 2012,
plaintiff's alleged onset date, through the date of the
decision. (Tr. 10-26). Plaintiff filed a request for review,
and on January 26, 2017, the Appeals Council denied
plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-6).
Plaintiff appealed that decision to this court.
judicial review, this court's role is to determine
whether the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Pierce v.
Underwood, 587 U.S. 552 (1988). “Substantial
evidence is more than a mere scintilla but may be somewhat
less than a preponderance of the evidence.”
Rutherford v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 546, 552 (3d Cir.
2005). It is relevant evidence viewed objectively as adequate
to support a decision. Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Kangas v. Bowen, 823 F.2d 775
(3d Cir. 1987); Dobrowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d
403 (3d Cir. 1979). In determining whether substantial
evidence exists, the reviewing court may not weigh the
evidence or substitute its own conclusion for that of the
ALJ. Burns v. Barnhart, 312 F.3d 113, 118 (3d Cir.
2002). If the court determines the ALJ's factual findings
are supported by substantial evidence, then the court must
accept the findings as conclusive. Richardson, 402
U.S. at 390; Plummer v. Apfel, 186 F.3d 422, 427 (3d
Cir. 1999). It is the ALJ's responsibility to resolve
conflicts in the evidence and to determine credibility and
the relative weights to be given to the evidence.
Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401. While the Third Circuit
Court of Appeals has made it clear that the ALJ must analyze
all relevant evidence in the record and provide an
explanation for disregarding evidence, this requirement does
not mandate the ALJ “to use particular language or
adhere to a particular format in conducting his
analysis.” Jones v. Barnhart, 364 F.3d 501,
505 (3d Cir. 2004). Rather, it is meant “to ensure that
there is sufficient development of the record and explanation
of findings to permit meaningful review.” Id.
Moreover, apart from the substantial evidence inquiry, a
reviewing court must also ensure that the ALJ applied the
proper legal standards. Coria v. Heckler, 750 F.2d
245 (3d Cir. 1984).
establish a disability under the Act, a claimant must
demonstrate that there is some “medically determinable
basis for an impairment that prevents him from engaging in
any ‘substantial gainful activity' for a statutory
twelve-month period.” Stunkard v. Sec'y of
Health and Human Servs., 841 F.2d 57 (3d Cir. 1988)
(quoting Kangas, 823 F.2d at 777); 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1) (1982). The claimant satisfies his burden by
showing an inability to return to his past relevant work.
Doak v. Heckler, 790 F.2d 26, 28 (3d Cir. 1986);
Rossi v. Califano, 602 F.2d 55, 57 (3d Cir. 1979)
(citing Baker v. Gardner, 362 F.2d 864 (3d Cir.
1966)). Once this showing is made, the burden of proof shifts
to the Commissioner to show that the claimant, given his age,
education, and work experience, has the ability to perform
specific jobs that exist in the economy. See 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520; Rossi, 602 F.2d at 57.
explained in the following agency regulation, each case is
evaluated by the Commissioner according to a five-step
(i) At the first step, we consider your work activity if any.
If you are doing substantial gainful activity, we will find
that you are not disabled.
(ii) At the second step, we consider the medical severity of
your impairment(s). If you do not have a severe medically
determinable physical or mental impairment that meets the
duration requirement in § 404.1509, or a combination of
impairments that is severe and meets the duration
requirement, we will find that you are not disabled.
(iii) At the third step, we also consider the medical
severity of your impairment(s). If you have an impairment(s)
that meets or equals one of our listings in appendix 1 of
this subpart and meets the duration requirement, we will find
that you are disabled.
(iv) At the fourth step, we consider our assessment of your
residual functional capacity and your past relevant work. If
you can still do your past relevant work, we will find that
you are not disabled.
(v) At the fifth and last step, we consider our assessment of
your residual functional capacity and your age, education and
work experience to see if you can make an adjustment to other
work. If you can make an adjustment to other work, we will
find that you are not disabled. If you cannot ...