United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
JEFFREY C. ROSENBERGER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Donetta W. Ambrose United States Senior District Judge
Jeffrey C. Rosenberger (“Rosenberger”) brings
this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for review of
the ALJ's decision denying his claim for disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental
social security (“SSI”). He alleges a disability
beginning on November 8, 2013. (R. 33) Following a hearing
before an ALJ, during which time both Rosenberger and a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified, the ALJ
denied his claim. Rosenberger appealed. Pending are Cross
Motions for Summary Judgment. See ECF docket nos.
 and .
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). Determining whether substantial evidence exists is
“not merely a quantitative exercise.”
Gilliland v. Heckler, 786 F.2d 178, 183 (3d Cir.
1986) (citing Kent v. Schweiker, 710 F.2d 110, 114
(3d Cir. 1983)). “A single piece of evidence will not
satisfy the substantiality test if the secretary ignores, or
fails to resolve, a conflict created by countervailing
evidence. Nor is evidence substantial if it is overwhelmed by
other evidence - particularly certain types of evidence
(e.g., that offered by treating physicians).”
Id. 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 U.S.C.
eligible for social security benefits, the claimant 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.
1986). The 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).
Id. A 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.
one, the ALJ found that Rosenberger had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since November 8, 2013. (R. 36)
At step two, the ALJ concluded that Rosenberger has the
following severe impairments: partial left lower extremity
lateral cutaneous neuropathy, status post hernia surgeries;
affective disorders; and anxiety disorders. (R. 36)
three, the ALJ concluded that Rosenberger does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpt. P, Appendix 1. The
ALJ considered the listings in Section 11.00 (neurological
system) and Section 12.00 (mental disorders), but determined
that Rosenberger did not satisfy the criteria. (R. 36-40)
to engaging in step four, the ALJ assessed Rosenberger's
residual functional capacity
(“RFC”). The ALJ found Rosenberger able to perform
a range of light work, with some restrictions. (R. 40-42)
four, the ALJ determined that Rosenberger is capable of
performing his past relevant work as a cleaner. (R.
Residual Functional Capacity
challenges the ALJ's RFC findings. A claimant's RFC
consists of “'that which an individual is still
able to do despite the limitations caused by his or her
impairment(s).'” Fargnoli v. Massanari,247 F.3d 34, 40 (3d Cir. 2001), quoting, Burnett v.
Comm'r. of Soc. Sec.,220 F.3d 112, 121 (3d Cir.
2000). As stated earlier, the assessment must be based upon
all of the relevant evidence, including the medical records,
medical source opinions, and the individual's subjective
allegations and description of his / her limitations. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a)(3), 416.945(a)(3). The
responsibility for deciding a claimant's RFC rests solely
with the ALJ. Id. In making an RFC assessment, the
“ALJ must describe how the evidence supports his
conclusion and explain why certain limitations ...