Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Driskill v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Lynchburg Division

March 5, 2018

AMY SATTERFIELD DRISKILL, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Robert S. Ballou, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Amy Satterfield Driskill (“Driskill”) 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 disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under the Social Security Act (“Act”). 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-433. Specifically, Driskill alleges that the ALJ: (1) failed to address her chronic pain and associated disorders at Step Two; (2) failed to give controlling weight to the opinion of Driskill's treating physician; (3) improperly rejected the opinion of Driskill's husband; and (4) improperly discounted Driskill's credibility regarding her migraines. I conclude that the ALJ's analysis is not detailed enough to permit meaningful judicial review. Accordingly, I RECOMMEND GRANTING Driskill's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 14), and DENYING the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 16).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This Court limits its review to a determination of whether substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's conclusion that Driskill failed to demonstrate that she was disabled under the Act.[1] 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).

         CLAIM HISTORY

         Driskill filed for DIB on August 28, 2012, claiming that her disability began on January 1, 2012. R. 159. The ALJ determined that Driskill engaged in substantial gainful activity from January 1, 2012 through August 2012 and thus was not eligible for benefits until September 2012. R. 59-60. The Commissioner denied Driskill's application at the initial and reconsideration levels of administrative review. R. 96, 111. On March 17, 2015, ALJ Brian Kilbane held a hearing to consider Driskill's disability claim. R. 2-36. Driskill was represented by an attorney at the hearing, which included testimony from Driskill, her husband, and vocational expert Robert Jackson. Id.

         On May 29, 2015, the ALJ entered his decision analyzing Driskill's claim under the familiar five-step process, [2] and denying Driskill's claim for benefits. R. 57-68. The ALJ found that Driskill suffered from the severe impairments of spine disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, dysfunction of major joints, and obesity. R. 60. The ALJ found that these impairments did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment. R. 62-63. The ALJ further found that Driskill had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work, except that she: (1) can frequently lift and carry ten pounds but only occasionally lift and carry twenty pounds; (2) can sit, stand, and walk for six hours during an eight-hour workday; (3) can never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds, but can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; (4) is unlimited as far as balance; (5) can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; (6) can frequently-but not constantly-reach overhead with either arm and finger and feel with her right hand; (7) should avoid concentrated exposure to vibrations and hazards; and (8) requires a four-pronged cane to walk. R. 63.

         The ALJ determined that Driskill is incapable of performing her past relevant work as an expediter for an electrical company and an assistant manager of a hotel. R. 66. However, the ALJ found that Driskill could perform competitive work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy, such as inspector/grader, machine operator, and assembler. R. 67. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that she is not disabled. R. 68.

         Driskill requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision. R. 50-52. On July 25, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Driskill's request for review. R. 37-39. This appeal followed.

         ANALYSIS

         Driskill challenges the ALJ's decision on four grounds, claiming that the ALJ: (1) failed to find her chronic pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, and spina bifida occulta are severe impairments; (2) declined to give controlling weight to the opinions of Driskill's treating physician; (3) improperly rejected the opinion of Driskill's husband; and (4) improperly discounted Driskill's credibility regarding her migraines.

         Driskill's Severe Impairments

         Driskill contends that the ALJ failed to find that her fibromyalgia, spina bifida occulta, and chronic pain syndrome were “severe impairments” at Step Two of the sequential analysis and to account for the effect these impairments have in her RFC. Here the ALJ found that Driskill had the severe impairments of spine disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine, dysfunction - major joints, and obesity. The ALJ did not discuss any of the medical evidence to support these findings. The only statement in the opinion that these particular impairments were severe was “[t]he undersigned finds that the above impairments cause more than a minimal affect on the claimant's ability to do basic work activities and, as such, they are severe.” R. 60.

         As it relates to conditions considered non-severe, the ALJ did not discuss Driskill's medical history, treatment, findings, or limitations caused by other conditions. Rather, the ALJ merely listed the other impairments and, in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.