United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. WILKINSON, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Patricia Ball seeks judicial review pursuant to Section
405(g) of the Social Security Act (the “Act”) of
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (the “Commissioner”), terminating
plaintiff's supplemental security income benefits
("SSI") due to medical improvement under Title XVI
of the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(4). The matter was
referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.2E(B).
administrative decision dated December 4, 2003, the
Commissioner found plaintiff disabled as of March 1, 2003,
due to depression, which the Commissioner found met Listing
12.04. (Tr. 10, 49). On December 11, 2014, the Commissioner
performed a continuing disability review and found that
plaintiff had experienced medical improvement related to her
ability to work, and was no longer disabled as of December 1,
2014. (Tr. 9, 58-59). This determination was upheld upon
reconsideration after a disability hearing held on February
5, 2016, before a Disability Hearing Officer in Harvey,
Louisiana. (Tr. 9; 61-83). Plaintiff waived her right to
appear at the February 2016 hearing (Tr. 65-66).
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ"), which was held in New Orleans, Louisiana,
on February 27, 2017. (Tr. 25-48). Although informed of her
right to representation, plaintiff chose to appear and
testify without the assistance of an attorney or other
representative. (Tr. 110-11; 118). The ALJ issued a decision
on May 18, 2017, confirming the Commissioner's earlier
determination that Ball's medical improvement caused her
disability to end on December 1, 2014, and that she had not
become disabled again since that date for purposes of the
Act. (Tr. 9-18). On May 23, 2017, Ball requested review of
the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 119-20). After review, the
Appeals Council upheld the ALJ's decision on April 12,
2018, and the ALJ's decision became the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of this
court's review. (Tr. 1-3).
filed her complaint in this court on May 9, 2018. Record Doc.
No. 1. She filed a timely memorandum of facts and law on
August 31, 2018. Record Doc. No. 11. The Commissioner filed
her reply memorandum on November 1, 2018. Record Doc. No. 14.
STATEMENT OF THE ISSUE ON APPEAL
contends that the Commissioner made the following errors:
A. The ALJ erred at step 1 of the sequential evaluation for
cessation of disability benefits in finding that Ball does
not meet Listing 12.05 for intellectual disorders and had
insufficient evidence to support this finding.
B. The ALJ improperly found that plaintiff experienced
medical improvement because the record was incomplete as it
did not include the Comparison Point Decision or
plaintiff's medical records dating back to the time of
Doc. No. 11 at p. 6.
ALJ'S FINDINGS RELEVANT TO ISSUE ON APPEAL
made the following findings relevant to the issue on appeal:
1. The most recent favorable medical decision finding that
plaintiff was disabled was a determination dated December 4,
2003. This is known as the "comparison point
2. At the time of the CPD, plaintiff had the following
medically determinable impairment: depression. This
impairment was found to meet section 12.04 of 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
3. As of December 1, 2014, plaintiff had the following
medically determinable impairments: right hip bursitis,
lumbar degenerative disc disease with disc bulging, obesity,
bilateral knee osteoarthritis, depressive disorder,
borderline intellectual functioning, heart murmur and
hypertension. These are plaintiff's current impairments.
4. Since December 1, 2014, Ball has not had an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. Medical improvement occurred as of December 1, 2014.
6. The medical improvement is related to plaintiff's
ability to work because, as of December 1, 2014,
plaintiff's CPD impairment no longer met or medically
equaled the same listing that was met at the time of the CPD.
7. Beginning on December 1, 2014, plaintiff has continued to
have a severe impairment or combination of impairments. The
above-listed medically determinable impairments, excepting
heart murmur and hypertension, are severe.
8. Beginning on December 1, 2014, based on her current
impairments, plaintiff has had the residual functional
capacity to perform light work, with certain postural
limitations. Mentally, plaintiff is limited to performing
tasks commensurate with a Specific Vocational Preparation
("SVP") Rating of two or less, with no more than
occasional interaction with the public.
9. Plaintiff has no past relevant work.
10. On December 1, 2014, plaintiff was a younger individual