United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
JEFFREY D. WHALING, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Donetta W. Ambrose United States Senior District Judge
before the Court are Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. (ECF
Nos. 12 and 15). Pro se Plaintiff filed Exhibits in
Support of his Motion and Defendant filed a Brief in Support
of its Motion. (ECF Nos. 12 and 16). After careful
consideration of the submissions of the parties, and based on
my Opinion set forth below, I am denying Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 12) and granting
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 15).
se Plaintiff brought this action for review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his
application for disability insurance benefits pursuant to the
Social Security Act. He filed his application alleging
disability since March 20, 2014. (ECF No. 8-5, p. 6).
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), Marty R.
Pillion, held a hearing on October 6, 2016. (ECF No. 98-2,
pp. 94-129). On November 15, 2016, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act.
(ECF No. 8-2, pp. 78-89).
exhausting all administrative remedies thereafter, Plaintiff
filed this action. The parties have filed Cross-Motions for
Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 12 and 15). The issues are now
ripe for review.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
standard of review in social security cases is whether
substantial evidence exists in the record to support the
Commissioner's decision. Allen v. Bowen, 881
F.2d 37, 39 (3d Cir. 1989). Substantial evidence has been
defined as “more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate.” Ventura v. Shalala, 55 F.3d 900,
901 (3d Cir. 1995), quoting Richardson v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). Additionally, the
Commissioner's findings of fact, if supported by
substantial evidence, are conclusive. 42 U.S.C. §405(g);
Dobrowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d 403, 406 (3d Cir.
1979). A district court cannot conduct a de novo
review of the Commissioner's decision or re-weigh the
evidence of record. Palmer v. Apfel, 995 F.Supp.
549, 552 (E.D. Pa. 1998). Where the ALJ's findings of
fact are supported by substantial evidence, a court is bound
by those findings, even if the court would have decided the
factual inquiry differently. Hartranft v. Apfel, 181
F.3d 358, 360 (3d Cir. 1999). To determine whether a finding
is supported by substantial evidence, however, the district
court must review the record as a whole. See, 5
eligible for social security benefits, the plaintiff must
demonstrate that he cannot engage in substantial gainful
activity because of a 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 at least 12 months. 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A);
Brewster v. Heckler, 786 F.2d 581, 583 (3d Cir.
Commissioner has provided the ALJ with a five-step sequential
analysis to use when evaluating the disabled status of each
claimant. 20 C.F.R. §404.1520(a). The ALJ must
determine: (1) whether the claimant is currently engaged in
substantial gainful activity; (2) if not, whether the
claimant has a severe impairment; (3) if the claimant has a
severe impairment, whether it meets or equals the criteria
listed in 20 C.F.R., pt. 404, subpt. P., appx. 1; (4) if the
impairment does not satisfy one of the impairment listings,
whether the claimant's impairments prevent him from
performing his past relevant work; and (5) if the claimant is
incapable of performing his past relevant work, whether he
can perform any other work which exists in the national
economy, in light of his age, education, work experience and
residual functional capacity. 20 C.F.R. §404.1520. The
claimant carries the initial burden of demonstrating by
medical evidence that he is unable to return to his previous
employment (steps 1-4). Dobrowolsky, 606 F.2d at
406. Once the claimant meets this burden, the burden of proof
shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant can
engage in alternative substantial gainful activity (step 5).
district court, after reviewing the entire record may affirm,
modify, or reverse the decision with or without remand to the
Commissioner for rehearing. Podedworny v. Harris,
745 F.2d 210, 221 (3d Cir. 1984).
Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”)
implication, it may be read that Plaintiff is arguing that
the ALJ erred in determining his residual functional capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 12). The RFC determination is a
question to be answered by the ALJ based on all of the
evidence of record. 20 C.F.R. §§404.1527, 416.927.
Simply because a plaintiff has an impairment or a diagnosis
does not equate to a disability. Rather, a plaintiff must
still show he/she is unable to perform substantial gainful
activity. Petition of Sullivan, 904 F.2d 826, 845
(3d Cir. 1990). In this case, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
has the RFC to perform light work with extensive limitations.
(ECF No. 8-2, p. 83). After a review of the record, I find
there is substantial evidence of record to support the
ALJ's RFC determination. (ECF No. 8-2, pp. 78-89). Thus,
I find no error in this regard.
Jobs in the ...