United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Robert S. Ballou United States Magistrate Judge
William U. (“William”), proceeding pro
se, filed this action challenging the final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) finding him not disabled and
therefore ineligible for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) under the Social Security Act
(“Act”). 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-433,
1381-1383f. I conclude that substantial evidence supports the
Commissioner's decision in all respects. Accordingly, I
RECOMMEND GRANTING the Commissioner's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 13).
Court limits its review to a determination of whether
substantial evidence exists to support the Commissioner's
conclusion that William failed to demonstrate that he 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 and alterations
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.
filed for SSI and DIB in May 2014, claiming that his
disability began on April 27, 2014. R. 182-99. William's
date last insured was December 30, 2017. R. 12. The state
agency denied William's applications at the initial and
reconsideration levels of administrative review. R. 60-105.
On March 29, 2016, ALJ Geraldine H. Page held an
administrative hearing to consider William's claims for
DIB and SSI. R. 33-59. William was represented by counsel at
the hearing which included testimony from vocational expert
John Newman. Id.
11, 2016, the ALJ entered her decision analyzing
William's claims under the familiar five-step
process and denying his claim for benefits. R.
17-27. The ALJ found that William was insured at the time of
the alleged disability onset and that he suffered from the
severe impairments of coronary artery and heart disease with
a history of coronary artery bypass grafting and stenting,
history of heart attack, and obesity. R. 19. The ALJ
determined that these impairments, either individually or in
combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed
impairment. R. 21. The ALJ concluded that William retained
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform a range of sedentary work. R. 21. Specifically, the
ALJ found that William can: (1) stand and walk for two hours
in an eight-hour workday; (2) sit for six hours in an
eight-hour workday; (3) lift and carry five pounds frequently
and ten pounds occasionally; (4) occasionally push and pull;
(5) only work jobs that allow him to change posture in place
every hour; and (6) occasionally balance, kneel, crawl,
crouch, stoop, and climb ramps and stairs, but no crawling or
climbing ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. R. 21-22. The ALJ
found that William must avoid even moderate exposure to
extreme temperatures, excess humidity, pulmonary irritants,
and microwaves or electrical magnetic fields. R. 22.
determined that William was not capable of performing his
past relevant work as a garment folder, plumber's helper,
and short order cook. R. 25. However, the ALJ found that
William could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers
in the national economy, such as assembler, packer/stuffer,
and inspector/tester/gauger. R. 26. Thus, the ALJ concluded
that William was not disabled. R. 27.
appealed the ALJ's decision, and the Appeals Council
denied his request for review on March 27, 2017. R. 1-4. This
has a history of heart disease, including a heart attack in
2014. William also suffers from psoriatic arthritis stemming
from his psoriasis. At the administrative hearing, William
testified that he can only stand for five to ten minutes (R.
39), is fatigued “all the time” (R. 39), can lift
ten pounds comfortably (R. 40), and that sitting irritates
his psoriasis on his backside (R. 40). William testified that
he has not sought treatment for his psoriasis since 2013,
despite having non-stop episodes that cover 90 percent of his
body. R. 40.
2013, William received medication for psoriasis,
hyperlipidemia, anxiety, and heart disease. R. 273. On April
11, 2014, William visited the emergency department
complaining of left ankle pain and swelling for the past two
months. R. 253. William reported increased pain that radiates
up his calves after standing at work all day. Id.
William's physical examination revealed swelling of his
left ankle with decreased range of motion, psoriatic lesions
over the soles of his feet, and severe psoriasis involving
his face, neck, and arms. R. 254. The doctor recommended
steroids and a brace, and released William back to work. R.
followed up with Jason Meador, P.A., on April 17, 2014,
complaining of swelling and pain in his left ankle. R. 269.
William reported not taking medication for his psoriasis for
the last three years. Id. William also reported
occasional chest pain, shortness of breath, and palpitations
in stressful situations. Id. Upon examination,
William was alert and oriented, had psoriatic patches on his
arms, had a normal pulse, had a normal neurologic
examination, and had mild swelling and tenderness in his left
ankle. R. 269. PA Meador assessed psoriasis and joint pain in
his ankle and heart disease, and recommended medication. R.
April 27, 2014, William suffered a cardiac arrest and had an
11-day hospital stay during which he had a cardiac
catherization and a defibrillator placement. R. 347. William
began a beta-locker, an ACE inhibitor, aspirin, statin, and
amiodarone. R. 351, 419-21. William was discharged from the
hospital on May 8, 2014, with instructions to lose weight and
stop using tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. R. 419-21.
The physician noted William's severe psoriatic arthritis
and skins lesions and advised him to continue the clinical