United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
J. RUETER United States Magistrate Judge
States Magistrate Judge December 12, 2019 Plaintiff, Roger
Thomas Lee Anderson, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of the final decision
of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying his claim for
supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act (“Act”).
filed a Brief and Statement of Issues in Support of Request
for Review (“Pl.'s Br.”), defendant filed a
Response to Plaintiff's Request for Review
(“Def.'s Br.”), and plaintiff filed a reply
thereto (“Pl.'s Reply”). Additionally,
defendant filed a Motion to Stay (Doc. 14), to which
plaintiff filed a response in opposition (Doc. 15). For the
reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's Request for
Review will be GRANTED to the extent that
the case be remanded for further proceedings, and the Motion
to Stay will be DENIED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
filed an application for SSI on January 15, 2014, alleging
disability beginning July 24, 2008. (R. 174-84.)
Plaintiff's claim was denied initially; he then filed a
timely request for a hearing. (R. 96, 99-104.) A hearing was
held on October 20, 2015, before Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Anne W. Chain. (R. 32-68.) Plaintiff,
represented by counsel, appeared and testified. Christine A.
Carrozza-Slusarski, a vocational expert (“VE”),
decision dated January 24, 2018, the ALJ found that plaintiff
was not disabled under the Act. (R. 14-31.) The ALJ made the
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 15, 2014, the application date/amended
alleged onset date of disability (20 CFR 416.971 et
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease (DDD), coronary artery disease
(CAD), recurrent hernia, obesity, substance addiction
disorder, affective disorder, and anxiety related disorder
(20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. The claimant does 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 416.920(d), 416.925, and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 CFR 416.967(a) except that he requires a sit/stand option;
uses a cane for ambulation; cannot engage in more than
occasional pushing/pulling with the lower extremities; cannot
engage in climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds or crawling;
cannot engage in more than occasional climbing of
stairs/ramps, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching; no
more than occasional exposure to extreme temperatures,
pulmonary irritants including fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and
poor ventilation, humidity, wetness, vibration, and moving
machinery; no exposure to unprotected heights; limited to
routine tasks with short simple instructions, simple work
related decisions with few workplace changes; no interaction
with the public; no work with codependents such as team work;
no more than occasional interaction with coworkers and
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on November 30, 1970 and was 43
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-44, on the date the application was filed (20 CFR
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue in this case
because the claimant's past relevant work is unskilled
(20 CFR 416.968).
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 416.969 and
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since January 15, 2014, the date
the application was filed and the claimant's amended
alleged onset date of disability (20 CFR 416.920(g)).
filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision that was
denied and the ALJ's decision became the final decision
of the Commissioner. (R. 1-10, 146-73.) Plaintiff now seeks
judicial review of the ALJ's decision pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
role of this court on judicial review is to determine whether
there is substantial evidence in the record to support the
Commissioner's decision. Hagans v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 694 F.3d 287, 292 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g)), cert. denied, 571 U.S. 1204 (2014);
Plummer v. Apfel, 186 F.3d 422, 427 (3d Cir. 1999).
Substantial evidence is defined as “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Biestek v. Berryhill,
139 S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019) (quoting Consol. Edison Co.
v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). Substantial evidence
is more than a mere scintilla of evidence, but may be less
than a preponderance of the evidence. Jesurum v.
Sec'y of U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Serv.,
48 F.3d 114, 117 (3d Cir. 1995). This court may not weigh
evidence or substitute its conclusions for those of the
fact-finder. Burns v. Barnhart, 312 F.3d 113, 118
(3d Cir. 2002) (citing Williams v. Sullivan, 970
F.2d 1178, 1182 (3d Cir. 1992)). As the Third Circuit has
stated, “so long as an agency's fact-finding is
supported by substantial evidence, reviewing courts lack
power to reverse . . . those findings.” Monsour
Med. Ctr. v. Heckler, 806 F.2d 1185, 1191 (3d Cir.
eligible for benefits, the 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. §
1382c(a)(3)(A). Specifically, the impairments must be such
that the claimant “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.” 42
U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(B). Under the Act, the claimant has
the burden of proving the existence of a disability and must
furnish medical evidence indicating the severity of the
impairment. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(H)(i).
Social Security Administration employs a five-part procedure
to determine whether an individual has met this burden. 20
C.F.R. § 416.920. This process requires the Commissioner to
consider, in sequence, whether a claimant: (1) is currently
employed; (2) has a severe impairment; (3) has an impairment
which meets or equals the requirements of a listed
impairment; (4) can perform past relevant work; and (5) if
not, whether the claimant is able to perform other work, in
view of his age, education, and work experience. See
id. The claimant bears the burden of establishing steps
one through four of the five-step evaluation process, while
the burden shifts to the Commissioner at step five to show
that the claimant is capable of performing other jobs
existing in large numbers in the national economy. Hess
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 931 F.3d 198, 201 (3d Cir.
testimony from the administrative hearing on October 20,
2015, reveals that plaintiff has a ninth-grade education and
is able to read, write, and perform simple math. (R. 42.)
Plaintiff has not worked since his application date, but in
the past worked at several supermarkets stocking shelves. (R.
42-43.) Such work required plaintiff to remain on his feet
most of the time and to lift in excess ...