United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
N. BLOCH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
NOW, this 20th day of March, 2018, upon consideration of the
parties' cross motions for summary judgment, the Court,
upon review of the Commissioner of Social Security's
final decision, denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Subchapter II of
the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et
seq., finds that the Commissioner's findings are
supported by substantial evidence and, accordingly, affirms.
See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Jesurum v.
Sec'y of U.S. Dep't of Health & Human
Servs., 48 F.3d 114, 117 (3d Cir. 1995); Williams v.
Sullivan, 970 F.2d 1178, 1182 (3d Cir. 1992), cert.
denied sub nom., 507 U.S. 924 (1993); Brown v.
Bowen, 845 F.2d 1211, 1213 (3d Cir. 1988); see also
Berry v. Sullivan, 738 F.Supp. 942, 944 (W.D. Pa. 1990)
(if supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
decision must be affirmed, as a federal court may neither
reweigh the evidence, nor reverse, merely because it would
have decided the claim differently) (citing Cotter v.
Harris, 642 F.2d 700, 705 (3d Cir. 1981)).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. No. 12) is DENIED and that Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 17) is GRANTED.
 Plaintiff's primary argument is
that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred
in finding that he could perform his past relevant work as a
greeter at Step Four of the sequential process. Plaintiff
first claims that the ALJ failed to resolve the conflict
between the testimony of the vocational expert
(“VE”) that he could perform this job as it is
actually and ordinarily performed and the requirements of
this position pursuant to the Dictionary of Occupational
Titles (“DOT”), which he alleges were
incompatible with the limitations to occasional handling and
reaching with his left hand contained in his residual
functional capacity (“RFC”). The Court disagrees
and finds that the ALJ properly relied on the testimony of
the VE in finding that Plaintiff could perform his past
relevant work at Step Four.
The position under the DOT found by the ALJ and VE to
be the closest to Plaintiff's past relevant work as a
greeter was identified as a host/hostess position, with a DOT
number of 352.667-101. Under DOT 352.667-101, this position
of host/hostess requires “frequent” handling and
reaching. “Frequent” in this context generally
means occurring between one third and two thirds of the day,
while “occasional” means occurring very little up
to one third of the day. See SSR 83-10, 1983 WL
31251 (S.S.A.), at **5-6. Plaintiff contends, therefore, that
his limitation to only the occasional ability to handle and
reach with his left hand is inconsistent with the DOT's
requirements for the job. While acknowledging that the ALJ
did, in fact, attempt to resolve this conflict at the
hearing, Plaintiff asserts that his attempt was inadequate.
The Court finds, however, that to the extent that there was a
conflict between the VE's testimony and the DOT, it was
more than adequately resolved.
Social Security Ruling 00-4p, 2000 WL 1898704 (S.S.A.)
provides that a VE's testimony and evidence regarding
occupational information should be consistent with the
occupational information contained in the DOT. It states that
when there is an apparent unresolved conflict between VE
testimony and the DOT, the ALJ is required to elicit a
reasonable explanation for the conflict before relying on the
VE's evidence. If the ALJ finds the VE's explanation
for the conflict to be reasonable and provides a basis for
doing so, the ALJ can rely on the VE's testimony. See
id. at **2-4. The first question here, then, is whether
there was a conflict between the VE's testimony and the
The VE testified that, if able to use his left hand as
a “helper hand, ” Plaintiff could perform his
past relevant work. (R. 86). He explained that the DOT is
silent as to whether the upper extremity dexterity
requirements for the position are necessarily bimanual in
nature, but opined, based on 45 years of experience and
observations, that the job could be performed if the
secondary hand could perform manual functions such as
handling and reaching only occasionally, as long as the
dominant hand could do so frequently. (R. 86-87). Some courts
have held there to be no conflict in such circumstances,
where the DOT indicates that a position requires frequent
upper extremity activities such as handling and reaching, and
the VE testifies that this could be done with one hand, with
occasional help from the other, more limited hand. See
Diehl v. Barnhart, 357 F.Supp.2d 804, 822 (E.D. Pa.
2005); Brown v. Colvin, No. 15-323, 2016 WL 6821877,
at *2 (Nov. 17, 2016). Accordingly, it is unclear that there
even is a conflict between the VE's testimony and the DOT
in regard to the need for bimanual dexterity.
Regardless, even assuming that the DOT requires
frequent handling and reaching with both hands, and there is
a conflict between the DOT and the VE's testimony, the
conflict was more than adequately resolved. As discussed
above, the VE particularly stated that regardless of the
DOT's silence as to the need for bimanual dexterity, his
experience and observations led him to conclude that
occasional use of a helper hand would be sufficient. The ALJ
very specifically confirmed that all operations with
Plaintiff's left hand would be limited to occasional use.
With this understanding, the VE testified that Plaintiff
could perform his past work and explained the basis for his
opinion. (R. 86-87). The ALJ's reliance on this evidence
was reasonable, especially in light of the fact that the DOT
provides the maximum requirements for occupations as
generally performed, not the requirements for a specific job
in a specific setting. A VE can provide more specific
information about a specific job, which is precisely what
happened here. See SSR 00-4p, at *3.
Plaintiff further argues that DOT 352.667-010 no
longer accurately reflects the duties of a Wal-Mart greeter.
He argues, based on media reports, that the position has
evolved and now requires more walking and standing. However,
none of this was part of the record before the ALJ. The VE
offered expert testimony as to how the position of greeter is
actually and ordinarily performed, and the ALJ was entitled
to rely on this evidence in conducting his Step Four
analysis. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1560(b)(2);
Shears v. Barnhart, No. 05-3713, 2006 WL 1641635, at
*2 (E.D. Pa. June 9, 2006) (finding that the claimant's
failure to challenge the VE's testimony at the hearing
left such uncontradicted testimony as the only evidence ...