United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania, Scranton
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT PLAINTIFF'S
APPEAL AND TO REVERSE AND REMAND DECISION OF
B. COHN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge for a report and recommendation. Todd Leroy Fuhrman
(“Plaintiff”), seeks judicial review of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration's
decision finding of not disabled. As set forth below, the
undersigned recommends to GRANT
Plaintiff's appeal and REVERSE and
REMAND the Commissioner's decision in
STANDARD OF REVIEW
receive disability or supplemental security benefits under
the Social Security Act (“Act”), a claimant bears
the burden to 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); accord
42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A).
further provides that an individual:
shall be determined to be under a disability only if his
physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such
severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work
but cannot, considering his age, education, and work
experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful
work which exists in the national economy, regardless of
whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he
lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or
whether he would be hired if he applied for work.
42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(B).
Plaintiff must demonstrate the physical or mental impairment
“by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§
Security regulations implement a five-step sequential process
to evaluate a disability claim. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520, 416.920. The process requires an ALJ to decide
whether an applicant (1) is engaged in “substantial
gainful activity;” (2) suffers from a “severe
medically determinable physical or mental impairment;”
(3) suffers from “an impairment(s) that meets or equals
one” listed in the regulation's appendix; (4) has a
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) allowing for
performance of “past relevant work;” and (5) can
“make an adjustment to other work.”
Rutherford v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 546, 551 (3d Cir.
any of the steps a determination exists that a plaintiff is
or is not disabled, evaluation under a subsequent step is not
necessary. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). The claimant
bears the burden of proof at steps one through four. See
Rutherford, 399 F.3d at 551. If the claimant satisfies
this burden, then the Commissioner must show at step five
that jobs exist in the national economy that a person with
the claimant's abilities, age, education, and work
experience can perform. Id.
reviewing a decision of the Commissioner, the Court is
limited to determining whether the Commissioner has applied
the correct legal standards and whether the decision is
supported by substantial evidence. See e.g., 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) (“Court shall review only the
question of conformity with such regulations and the validity
of such regulations”). Substantial evidence is a
deferential standard of review. See Jones v.
Barnhart, 364 F.3d 501, 503 (3d Cir. 2004). 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, 565 (1988) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)); see also Johnson v.
Commissioner of Social Sec., 529 F.3d 198, 200 (3d Cir.
2008). Substantial evidence is “less than a
preponderance” and “more than a mere
scintilla.” Jesurum v. Sec'y of U.S. Dep't
of Health & Human Servs., 48 F.3d 114, 117 (3d Cir.
1995) (citing Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
Court may neither re-weigh the evidence nor substitute its
judgment for that of the fact-finder. Rutherford,
399 F.3d at 552. The Court will not set the
Commissioner's decision aside if it is supported by
substantial evidence, even if the Court would have decided
the factual inquiry differently. Hartranft v. Apfel,
181 F.3d 358, 360 (3d Cir.1999) (citing 42 U.S.C. §
2015, Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Act,
alleging disability since August 20, 2013. (Tr. 141-52, 158).
In May 2017, an ALJ held a hearing where Plaintiff and a
Vocational Expert (“VE”) testified. (Tr. 27-39).
On August 2, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 12-22). Plaintiff was fifty-four
years old at the time of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 20,
22). In May 2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review (Tr. 1-6), ...