United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
TRACY L. ROMANOSKEY, Plaintiff,
NANCY BERRYHILL,  Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
F. SAPORITO, JR. United States Magistrate Judge
Tracy L. Romanoskey, is seeking judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(ACommissioner@) denying her claims for disability insurance
benefits and supplemental security income under Titles II and
XVI of the Social Security Act. Jurisdiction is conferred on
this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 42 U.S.C.
matter has been referred to the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge to prepare a report and recommended
disposition pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §
636(b) and Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. For the reasons expressed herein, we have found
that the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security is supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly,
it is recommended that the final decision of the Commissioner
denying Romanoskey's claims for benefits be
AFFIRMED, and that Romanoskey's request
for a new hearing or award of benefits be
Background and Procedural History
is an adult individual, born on April 9, 1976. Romanoskey was
twenty-six years of age at the time of her alleged onset of
disability, which made her a “younger person”
under the Commissioner's regulations whose age generally
does not affect his ability to adjust to other work.
3, 2013, Romanoskey protectively filed her application for
benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.
In both applications, she alleged that she became disabled on
January 1, 2003. (Tr.17). Romanoskey's alleged
impairments included: post-traumatic stress disorder,
depression, anxiety, panic disorder, bipolar, arthritis in
back and shoulder, and degenerative joint disease.
claims were initially denied on September 20, 2013. On
November 12, 2013, Romanoskey filed a written request for an
administrative hearing. Her request was granted. On March 17,
2015, Romanoskey appeared and testified at a hearing before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Gerard W. Langan
in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Romanoskey was represented by
Thomas Sutton, Esquire. Additionally, Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Carmine Abraham also appeared and
testified. (Tr. 17).
April 20, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision in
which he concluded that, considering Romanoskey's age,
education, work experience, and residual functional capacity,
there are jobs that she can perform that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy. Romanoskey then filed a
timely complaint on December 27, 2016, in this court. (Doc.
1). The Commissioner's timely answer to the complaint was
filed March 8, 2017. (Doc. 9).
Statement of Facts
completed her GED. (Tr.172). Romanoskey previously worked as
a table busser, cashier, telemarketer, and waitress. (Tr.
172). She stopped working on May 13, 2011.
lives with her boyfriend in Pittston, Pennsylvania, which is
in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Tr. 65). She has one
child over the age of eighteen. (Tr. 66).
stated that she has held jobs such as: (1) table busser;
where the heaviest thing she lifted was a tray of dishes
weighing approximately five to six pounds; (2) telemarketer;
where she was making outgoing telephone calls and reading
from a script with some data input. (Tr. 67-69).
time of the administrative hearing, she testified that she
was on probation and was incarcerated for approximately eight
months prior for retail theft. Prior to that incarceration
she was incarcerated for a violation of probation while out
on a furlough for her brother's funeral. (Tr. 76).
stated that she does not work because she has a problem with
going in stores, panic attacks, bipolar, and difficulty
sleeping. (Tr. 71). She stated she goes to work with her
boyfriend and assists him because she has depression and
panic attacks, and he does not want to leave her alone while
he is at work. (Tr. 71).
stated that her panic attacks are debilitating. She
experiences the sensation that her legs are kicking, and she
cannot breathe. She starts to sweat, her chest hurts, and her
mind goes numb. She stated she loses all function. She stated
that there was a time when she would self-medicate for the
panic attacks. (Tr. 73).
stated that she does not have a valid driver's license.
(Tr. 74). She stated that she watches television and reads.
Bittenbinder, her boyfriend, testified at the hearing. He
stated that he takes her to work with him because of her
panic attacks., He described the panic attacks as heavy
breathing while her legs kick requiring him to hold them
down. He testified that while he was at work, she would call
him because she was having a panic attack. He would have to
leave work. (Tr. 79-80). He stated that she has them
approximately two to three times a month. (Tr. 80).
testified that at times she gets up and dresses for the day
and other days where she does not come out of her bedroom.
Standard of Review
reviewing the denial of disability benefits, the Court's
review is limited to determining whether those findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the administrative
record. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (sentence five);
id. § 1383(c)(3); Johnson v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 529 F.3d 198, 200 (3d Cir. 2008); Ficca
v. Astrue, 901 F.Supp.2d 533, 536 (M.D. Pa. 2012).
Substantial evidence “does not mean a large or
considerable amount of evidence, but rather such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Pierce v. Underwood,
487 U.S. 552 (1988). Substantial evidence is less than a
preponderance of the evidence but more than a mere scintilla.
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). A
single piece of evidence is not substantial evidence if the
ALJ ignores countervailing evidence or fails to resolve a
conflict created by the evidence. Mason v. Shalala,
994 F.2d 1058, 1064 (3d Cir. 1993). In an adequately
developed factual record, substantial evidence may be
“something less than the weight of the evidence, and
the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from
the evidence does not prevent [the ALJ's decision] from
being supported by substantial evidence.” Consolo
v. Fed. Maritime Comm'n, 383 U.S. 607, 620 (1966).
“In determining if the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence the court must scrutinize
the record as a whole.” Leslie v. Barnhart,
304 F.Supp.2d 623, 627 (M.D. Pa. 2003). The question before
the Court, therefore, is not whether the claimant is
disabled, but whether the Commissioner's finding that he
or she is not disabled is supported by substantial evidence
and was reached based upon a correct application of the
relevant law. See Arnold v. Colvin, No.
3:12-CV-02417, 2014 WL 940205, at *1 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 11, 2014)
(“[I]t has been held that an ALJ's errors of law
denote a lack of substantial evidence.”) (alterations
omitted); Burton v. Schweiker, 512 F.Supp. 913, 914
(W.D. Pa. 1981) (“The [Commissioner]'s
determination as to the status of a claim requires the
correct application of the law to the facts.”); see
also Wright v. Sullivan, 900 F.2d 675, 678 (3d Cir.
1990) (noting that the scope of review on legal matters is
plenary); Ficca, 901 F.Supp.2d at 536 (“[T]he
court has plenary review of all legal issues . . . .”).
receive disability benefits, a claimant must demonstrate an
“inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A); id. § 1382c(a)(3)(A); see
also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a); id. §
416.905(a). To satisfy this requirement, a claimant must have
a severe physical or mental impairment that makes it
impossible to do his or her previous work or any other