United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
ASHLEY N. LONG, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
S. BALLOU UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Ashley N. Long (“Long”) filed this action
challenging the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) determining that she
was not disabled and therefore not eligible for supplemental
security income (“SSI”), and disabled adult child
benefits (“DACB”) under the Social Security Act
(“Act”). 42 U.S.C. §§ 402(d),
1381-1383f. Specifically, Long alleges that the ALJ erred by
failing to give the opinions of her treating physicians
controlling weight. I conclude that the ALJ erred when he
declined to accord the opinions of Long's treating
physicians controlling weight. Accordingly, I RECOMMEND
GRANTING Long's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 15)
and DENYING the Commissioner's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Dkt. No. 11).
Court limits its review to a determination of whether
substantial evidence exists to support the Commissioner's
conclusion that Long failed to demonstrate that she was
disabled under the Act. Mastro v. Apfel, 270 F.3d 171,
176 (4th Cir. 2001). “Substantial evidence is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion; it consists of more than a
mere scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat less than a
preponderance.” Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585,
589 (4th Cir. 1996) (internal citations omitted). The final
decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed where
substantial evidence supports the decision. Hays v.
Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990).
protectively filed for SSI and DACB on May 26, 2012, claiming
that her disability began on August 24, 2009. R. 67. The
Commissioner denied the application at the initial and
reconsideration levels of administrative review. R. 78-143.
On May 1, 2015, ALJ Joseph T. Scruton held an administrative
hearing to consider Long's disability claim. R. 35-66.
Long was represented by an attorney at the hearing, which
included testimony from Long and vocational expert Ashley
28, 2015, the ALJ entered his decision analyzing Long's
claim under the familiar five-step process,  and denying
Long's claim for disability. R. 13-26. The ALJ found that
Long suffered from the severe impairments of:
mild-to-moderate lumbar spine degenerative disease,
fibromyalgia, 2014 onset of diabetes mellitus 2,
hypertension, morbid obesity, history of mid- 2014 wrist
sprain, asthma, and generalized osteoarthritis. R. 17. The
ALJ further found that Long retained the RFC to perform a
range of sedentary work, but she is restricted to
occasionally or frequently lifting and/or carrying ten
pounds; occasionally stooping, crouching, and balancing;
never kneeling, climbing, or crawling; should avoid operation
of foot controls; and should avoid even moderate exposure to
pulmonary irritants. R. 22. The ALJ determined that Long
could not return to her past relevant work as a babysitter,
but that she could work at jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy, such as assembler, weight
tester, and cuff holder. R. 25. Thus, the ALJ concluded that
Long was not disabled. Id.
appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, but
her request for review was subsequently denied. R. 1-3. This
argues that the ALJ erred by giving limited weight to the
opinions of treating physicians Michael Camardi, M.D., and
Joseph Lemmer, M.D., instead giving greater weight to Ericka
Young, D.O., a consultative examiner. R. 23-24.
Camardi stated in his medical opinion that Long can sit,
stand, and/or walk less than two hours in an eight-hour
workday, can never lift and carry anything over ten pounds,
and will miss work more than four times every month. R.
628-29. Dr. Camardi explained that Long's pain would
constantly interfere with her attention and concentration on
the job. R. 628. Dr. Camardi stated that based on his
treatment of Long and her history, the limitations related
back to May 26, 2012-the date Long applied for Social
Security benefits. R. 629. Dr. Camardi is Long's primary
care physician and has been treating her since October 2014.
R. 45. The ALJ accorded Dr. Camardi's opinion only
“slight weight.” R. 23.
Lemmer, who has treated Long since April 2013, rendered a
similar opinion, stating that Long can sit, stand, and/or
walk less than two hours in an eight-hour workday, can never
lift and carry anything over fifty pounds, can rarely lift
and carry anything over twenty pounds, and can occasionally
lift and carry things weighing ten pounds or less. R. 626.
Dr. Lemmer explained that Long has significant limitations in
repetitive reaching, handling, and fingering, and she can
only rarely twist, stoop, crouch, climb ladders, and climb
stairs. Id. Dr. Lemmer stated that Long's pain
would frequently interfere with her attention and
concentration on the job, and he expected Long to miss work
at least four times a month. R. 625-26. The ALJ accorded Dr.
Lemmer's opinion only “slight” weight. R. 23.
gave significant weight to the functional assessment of
Ericka Young, D.O., rendered in January 2010 regarding
Long's previous claim for disability. R. 23. Dr. Young
[Long] could stand or walk approximately six hours in an
eight-hour workday. . . . There would be no restrictions on
sitting. No. assistive devices would be needed or used. There
would be no lifting or carrying limitations. There would be
postural limitations with stooping and crouching due to pain
in the ...