United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Lynchburg Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
S. Ballou, United States Magistrate Judge.
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).
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. 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).
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.
29, 2015, the ALJ entered his decision analyzing
Driskill's claim under the familiar five-step process,
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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 ...