United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
PERCY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Amelia Faye Moore has applied for judicial review under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) of the Commissioner of Social
Security's decision denying her application for
disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title III of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423.
Docket 1. Plaintiff filed an application for benefits on
January 31, 2011, alleging disability beginning on May 11,
2007. Docket 7 at 99-102.
agency administratively denied Plaintiff's claim
initially on June 9, 2011 and on reconsideration on August
18, 2011. Docket 7 at 53-56. Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing, which Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
Rebecca B. Sartor held on November 29, 2012. Id. at
66-67; 76-81. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
December 10, 2012. Id. at 9-23. The Appeals Counsel
denied Plaintiff's request for review on March 12, 2013.
Id. at 1-4. Plaintiff timely filed an appeal from
the March 12, 2013 decision and on June 4, 2015, this Court
entered a Final Judgment reversing and remanding the
ALJ's decision with the specific instruction that the ALJ
“clarify the residual functional capacity
assessment.” Id. at 390-391 (Moore v.
Colvin, 1:14-cv-87-DAS (N.D. Miss. Final Judgment dated
June 4, 2015)).
remand, the ALJ held a second hearing on December 10, 2015.
Id. at 434-38; Docket 19 at 533-66. The ALJ issued a
second unfavorable decision on June 3, 2016, from which
Plaintiff appealed to this Court. Docket 7 at 294-309. The
undersigned held a hearing on March 22, 2017, and the matter
is now ripe for review.
both parties have consented to a magistrate judge conducting
all the proceedings in this case as provided in 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c), the undersigned has the authority to issue
this opinion and the accompanying Final Judgment. Docket 13.
was born on April 6, 1965, and was 47 at the time of the
first ALJ hearing on November 29, 2012. Docket 7 at 101, 33.
Plaintiff graduated high school and attended three years of
college but did not obtain a degree. Id. at 33-34.
Plaintiff contends she became disabled as a result of anxiety
attacks, mental conditions, depression, and a nervous
breakdown in 2007. Id. at 115. At the first ALJ
hearing, Plaintiff stated that she began having anxiety and
panic attacks in 2007 leading up to and around the time she
left her job in March 2007 because of the alleged severity of
her various mental conditions. Id. at 34-36. She
testified that, despite taking medication, she experiences
anxiety attacks whenever she leaves home and is never able to
go anywhere by herself. Id. at 37-38. Plaintiff
stated that she experiences anxiety or panic attacks on at
least half of the days of the month, which results in
depressive episodes. Id. at 38-39. Plaintiff's
children are homeschooled, and she occasionally assists with
their computer-based curriculum and meal preparation.
Id. 40-43. Out of a seven-day week, Plaintiff
testified that she may be able to fully function for eight
hours in her home “probably two to three days.”
Id. at 45.
December 10, 2012, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
experienced the severe impairments of anxiety and depression
but that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or
medically equal a listed impairment in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. (404.1520(d), 404.1525, and 404.1526).
Id. at14. Considering Plaintiff's severe
impairments of anxiety and depression, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's demonstrated abilities were consistent with a
Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to perform a full range of
work at all exertional levels, including routine repetitive
tasks, but with the following nonexertional limitations: no
interaction with the public and only occasional interaction
with co-workers; no production pace work. Id. at 14,
17. The ALJ formulated this conclusion based on the State
agency psychological consultant's assessment, hearing
testimony, and the cumulative record evidence. Id.
Ultimately the ALJ found Plaintiff to be not disabled.
Id. at 23.
appealed the ALJ's decision and this Court found that
“the ALJ's decision, specifically the finding of
the plaintiff's residual functional capacity is not
supported by substantial evidence.” Id. at
390. The Court elaborated that the consulting examiner found
that Plaintiff's capacity for concentration, persistence,
and pace were poor; however, the state disability examiner
found that Plaintiff could maintain her concentration for
two-hour blocks during an eight-hour day. Id. In
light of the consultative examiner's findings as well as
“voluminous evidence from treating sources” as to
Plaintiff's poor ability to maintain concentration,
persistence, and pace, the Court found that “the
contrary opinion of a non-examining disability determination
doctor is to insufficient to support the decision.”
Id. The Court sought greater specificity regarding
Plaintiff's ability to perform “routine repetitive
tasks, but no production pace work” and remanded the
case to the ALJ “to clarify the residual functional
capacity assessment.” Id. at 390-91.
December 10, 2015, the ALJ held a second hearing at which
time Plaintiff was 50 years of age. Docket 19 at 540. Because
Plaintiff had recently suffered from a stroke, her husband
testified on her behalf that around the date of the ALJ's
first decision, December 2012, Plaintiff was unable to
provide any significant contribution to daily household
activities like cooking and cleaning and was unable to be
active and work eight hours a day at any task. Id.
at 542-43. Plaintiff's husband testified that she
exhibited paranoid behaviors on outings to the grocery store
and that he could not recall his wife's ability to
sustain her concentration and attention on anything for two
hours at a time. Id. at 546, 551.
decision dated June 3, 2016, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff had the RFC to perform work at all exertional
levels and retained the ability to perform routine,
repetitive tasks; she was capable of occasional interaction
with co-workers and supervisors but not the public; and she
could not perform work at a production rate pace. Docket 7 at
301. The vocational expert testified that an individual with
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC
would be able to perform the jobs of an office helper, a
checker I, and a sampler. Id. at 308-309; Docket 19
at 559. Notably, the vocational expert stated that one's
inability “to sustain attention and concentration for
two hours at a time […] would rule out virtually all
jobs at all levels.” Docket 19 at 560. The ALJ
ultimately ruled that Plaintiff had not been under a
disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any
time from May 11, 2007, through December 31, 2012.
Id. at 308-309.
asserts that the ALJ failed to comply with the Final Judgment
entered on June 4, 2015 reversing and remanding the ALJ's
decision with the specific instruction to “clarify the
residual functional capacity assessment.” Docket 10.
Plaintiff also claimed that the ALJ's finding at Step 3
was contrary to the opinions of the treating and consulting
sources; however, at the hearing, counsel for Plaintiff
conceded this argument and proceeded only with the argument
regarding the ALJ's failure to “clarify the
residual functional capacity assessment.” Docket 10.
determining disability, the Commissioner, through the ALJ,
works through a five-step sequential evaluation
process. The burden rests upon the plaintiff
throughout the first four steps of this five-step process to
prove disability, and if the plaintiff is successful in
sustaining her burden at each of the first four levels, then
the burden shifts to the Commissioner at step
five.First, the plaintiff must prove she is not
currently engaged in substantial gainful
activity.Second, the plaintiff must prove her
impairment is “severe” in that it
“significantly limits [her] physical or mental ability
to do basic work activities . . . .” At step three the
ALJ must conclude that plaintiff is disabled if she proves
that her impairments meet or are medically equivalent to one
of the impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
App. 1, §§ 1.00-114.09 (2010).If the plaintiff
does not meet this burden, at step four she must prove that
she is incapable of meeting the physical and mental demands
of her past relevant work. At step five, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to prove, considering the plaintiff's
residual functional capacity, age, education and past work
experience, that she is capable of performing other
work. If the Commissioner proves other work
exists which the plaintiff can perform, plaintiff is given
the chance to prove that she cannot, in fact, perform that
STANDARD OF REVIEW
review of the Commissioner's final decision to deny
benefits is limited to determining whether the decision is
supported by substantial evidence and whether the
Commissioner applied the correct legal standard. Crowley
v. Apfel,197 F.3d 194, 196 (5th Cir. 1999),
citing Austin v. Shalala, 994 F.2d 1170
(5th Cir. 1993); Villa v. Sullivan, 895
F.2d 1019, 1021 (5th Cir. 1990). The court has the
responsibility to scrutinize the entire record to determine
whether the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial
evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied
in reviewing the claim. Ransom v. Heckler, 715 F.2d
989, 992 (5th Cir. 1983). A court has limited
power of review ...