United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
the Court are the Objections of Plaintiff Camille Campbell to
the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of
United States Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter. (Doc. No.
15.) On April 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against
Defendant Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
alleging that Defendant wrongfully denied Plaintiff
disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II of the
Social Security Act (“Act”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-434. (Doc. No. 1.) On September 20, 2017,
the Court referred the case to Magistrate Judge Rueter for an
R&R. (Doc. No. 13.) On December 7, 2017, Magistrate Judge
Rueter issued the R&R, recommending that Plaintiff's
request for review be denied. (Doc. No. 14.) On December 20,
2017, Plaintiff timely filed Objections. (Doc. No. 15.) On
December 29, 2017, Defendant filed a Response to
Plaintiff's Objections. (Doc. No. 17.) The Objections are
now ripe for a decision.
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court has conducted a
de novo review of the portions of the R&R to
which objections have been made. After independently
reviewing the Administrative Record (“Record”)
and for reasons that follow, the Court will approve and adopt
the R&R (Doc. No. 14) in its entirety.
Factual and Procedural Background
Camille Campbell filed an application for DIB alleging
disability beginning on October 22, 2012. (R. at 101-07.) The
claim was denied initially and a request for a hearing was
filed timely. (R. at 40-49, 53-58.) A hearing was held on
August 26, 2015, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) George
C. Yatron. (R. at 27-39.) Plaintiff, represented by counsel,
appeared and testified. Agnes Klosinski Gallen, a vocational
expert (VE), also appeared and testified. In a decision dated
September 22, 2015, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not
disabled under the Act. (R. at 11-26.) The ALJ made the
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2018.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since October 22, 2012, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairment:
fibromyalgia (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. The claimant did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) in that she is able to lift/carry up to 10
pounds; stand and walk about 2 hours during an 8-hour
workday; and sit about 6 hours during an 8-hour workday.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work
as a hospital admitting clerk, department administrator and
This work does not require the performance of work-related
activities precluded by the claimant's residual
functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from October 22, 2012, through
the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).
(R. at 16-23.)
filed a request for review of the decision of the ALJ. (R at
1-10.) That request was denied and the ALJ's decision
became the final decision of the Commissioner. (Id.)
Plaintiff now seeks judicial review of the ALJ's decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Relevant Social Security Administration Regulations
prove a “disability, ” a claimant must
demonstrate “the inability to do 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.” 20
C.F.R. § 404.1505(a). The claimant has the burden of
proving the existence of a disability and can satisfy this
burden by showing an inability to return to former work.
Rossi v. Califano, 602 F.2d 55, 57 (3d Cir. 1979).
If she does so, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show
that, given the claimant's age, education, and work
experience, she is able to perform specific jobs that exist
in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A); 20
C.F.R. § 416.920(f).
evaluating a disability, the Social Security Administration
uses a five-step process, which is followed in a set order:
(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 make an
adjustment to other work, we will find that you are disabled.
the third and fourth steps, the Social Security
Administration assesses a claimant's residual functional
capacity, which is “the most [a claimant] can do
despite [her] limitations.” § 404.1545(a)(1). The
Social Security Administration uses the residual functional
capacity (RFC) assessment at Step Four to determine if the
claimant is able to do her “past relevant work.”
§ 404.1545(a)(5)(i). “Past relevant work” is
“work that you have done within the past 15 years, that
was substantial gainful activity, and that lasted long enough
for you to learn to do it.” § 404.1560(b)(1).
The ALJ's Decision
administrative hearing on August 26, 2015, Plaintiff
testified that she was forty-nine years old and unmarried
with a grown child who was twenty-seven years old at the
time. (R. at 29-30.) Plaintiff represented that she is a
college graduate who owns a home and lives alone. (R. at
30-31.) Plaintiff also stated that she had been staying in
New York with her mother “for the last several
months.” (R. at 31.) Plaintiff mentioned that she has a
driver's license and drove herself to the administrative
hearing from New York, a distance of 100 miles. (R. at
last worked in October 2012 as an administrative assistant.
(R. at 31.) She ceased work because “it became too much
for . . . [her] to manage in terms of the effects on . . .
[her] health.” (Id.) According to Plaintiff,
she can no longer work because of pain in her joints and
muscles and consistent, extreme fatigue. (R. at 33.)
Plaintiff experiences post-exertion fatigue, such that simple
activities result in pain. (Id.) Plaintiff explained
that she would be in bed for the next day or two due to
fatigue as a result of her drive from New York that morning.
respect to her daily activities, Plaintiff stated that she
does not engage in sports or exercise, but reads as a hobby.
(R. at 32.) When asked whether she engages in social
activities or visits friends, Plaintiff mentioned that she
goes to church. (Id.) Plaintiff stated that she can
no longer perform yard work or house work. (Id.)
Plaintiff grocery shops and “sometimes” watches
television. (R. at 32-33.) When asked what time she arises in
the morning, Plaintiff responded that she does “not get
up in the morning. [She gets] up in the afternoon at
about-between the hours of maybe 3:30 to 6:30.” (R. at
33.) Plaintiff does not smoke or ...