United States District Court, D. Maine
REPORT AND RECOMMENDED DECISION
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.
action, Plaintiff Shaunessy Butler seeks disability insurance
benefits under Title II and supplemental security income
benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act.
Defendant, the Social Security Administration Acting
Commissioner, found that Plaintiff has severe impairments,
but retains the functional capacity to perform substantial
gainful activity. Defendant, therefore, denied
Plaintiff's request for disability benefits. Plaintiff
filed this action to obtain judicial review of
Defendant's final administrative decision pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
a review of the record, and after consideration of the
parties' arguments, I recommend the Court affirm the
Commissioner's final decision is the September 25, 2015,
decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) (ECF No.
16-2). The ALJ's decision tracks the familiar
five-step sequential evaluation process for analyzing social
security disability claims, 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,
found that Plaintiff has severe, but non-listing-level
impairments consisting of hypertension, abdominal pain
secondary to fibroid tumor, microcytic anemia, history of
methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with left leg
pain, and shortness of breath. (Decision ¶¶ 3, 4.)
The ALJ nevertheless determined that Plaintiff retains the
physical residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light
work, subject to several postural and environmental
restrictions. (Id. ¶ 5.) Based on the RFC
and the testimony of a vocational expert, the ALJ found
Plaintiff can no longer perform her past relevant work, but
could, given her vocational background, make a transition to
other substantial gainful activity, including certain
assembler vocations. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 10.) The
ALJ concluded, therefore, that Plaintiff was not under
disability between the alleged onset date of July 28, 2012,
and the date of decision. (Id. ¶ 11.)
Statement of Errors
first argues that the ALJ failed to appreciate the nature and
extent of Plaintiff's physical impairments. (Statement of
Errors ¶ 1, ECF No. 23.) Plaintiff also contends the ALJ
erred when she asked Plaintiff questions unrelated to
Plaintiff's health. (Id. ¶ 2.) In a
separate, non-form fact sheet, Plaintiff asserts that the
condition of sepsis (evidently related to her MRSA infection
history) is not obvious by casual examination, and that her
constellation of impairments impact her daily life. (Fact
Sheet, ECF No. 23-1.)
Standard of Review
must affirm the administrative decision provided that the ALJ
applied the correct legal standards and provided that the
decision is supported by substantial evidence, even if the
record contains evidence capable of supporting an alternative
outcome. Manso-Pizarro v. Sec'y of HHS, 76 F.3d
15, 16 (1st Cir. 1996) (per curiam); Rodriguez Pagan v.
Sec'y of HHS, 819 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1987).
Substantial evidence is evidence that a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a finding. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Rodriguez v.
Sec'y of HHS, 647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981).
“The ALJ's findings of fact are conclusive when
supported by substantial evidence, but they are not
conclusive when derived by ignoring evidence, misapplying the
law, or judging matters entrusted to experts.”
Nguyen v. Chater, 172 F.3d 31, 35 (1st Cir. 1999).
Court's review must be guided by the parties'
arguments of law and discussion of the factual record; the
Court does not scrutinize the ALJ's decision on its own.
See D. Me. Local Rule 16.3(a); Rawstron v. Soc.
Sec. Admin. Com'r, No. 2:13-CV-00119-NT, 2014 WL
1806864, at *2 (D. Me. May 6, 2014); Lacadie v. Town of
Milford, No. 1:07- CV-00101-JAW, 2008 WL 1930410, at *6
n. 8 (D. Me. May 1, 2008).
support of her findings, the ALJ cited in part the available
clinical medical records, the lack of evidence of recent
medical treatment, and the results of an April 2013
consultative examination performed by Alan Bean, M.D. (Ex.
10F), who proposed certain exertional limitations the ALJ
accepted. (R. 16.) A review of the medical record, which
includes not only the evaluation by Dr. Bean, but the
assessment of Donald Trumbull, M.D., who concluded the
medical record does not contain evidence to support a
determination that Plaintiff's physical impairments are
functionally severe (Ex. B5A, R. 139 - 140),  and the records
of Richard Chamberlin, M.D., whose RFC assessment was not
inconsistent with the ALJ's determination even though he
concluded that Plaintiff has severe physical impairments (Ex.
B1A, R. 105 - 107), reveals that the record contains
substantial evidence to support the ALJ's RFC finding
despite Plaintiff's contentions as to the extent of her