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.

Crawford v. Barnhart

June 4, 2008

WOODROW CRAWFORD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JO ANN BARNHART, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document Nos. 7, 10

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF REVERSAL; DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF AFFIRMANCE

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the court are the plaintiff's motion for judgment of reversal and the defendant's motion for judgment of affirmance. Woodrow Crawford ("the plaintiff") claims he is entitled to Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") because he is unable to work due to a back problem. The defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security, denied the plaintiff's request for benefits, relying on an Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") ruling that the plaintiff had sufficient residual functional capacity*fn1 for gainful employment. Because the ALJ applied the incorrect legal standard by failing to make an explicit finding regarding the plaintiff's borderline age, the court grants the plaintiff's motion for judgment of reversal, denies the defendant's motion for judgment of affirmance and remands this case to the Social Security Administration for further proceedings.

II. FACTURAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Woodrow Crawford is a 57-year-old man with a graduate equivalency diploma ("GED") whose prior work experience was as a housekeeper and maintenance worker. Administrative R. ("AR") at 15; Pl.'s Mot. at 3. On March 25, 2002, he went to Howard University Hospital complaining of back pain radiating to his thighs. AR at 16. CT and MRI scans in the spring of 2002 showed L4-5 osteomyelitis and diskitis. Id. at 17. On May 1, 2002, the plaintiff had surgery to repair an "acquired femoral arteriovenous fistula" in his left leg. Id. From October, 2002 to September, 2003, the plaintiff saw three doctors who all agreed that 1) the plaintiff continued to suffer from lower back problems; 2) he should avoid heavy lifting and repeated bending, stooping, and kneeling; and 3) he could walk without a cane. Id. at 18. Since the onset of his back problems, the plaintiff has not been gainfully employed. Id. at 22; Pl.'s Mot. at 3.

The plaintiff applied for SSI on June 4, 2002. AR at 15. His "claim was denied initially and on reconsideration." Id. The plaintiff then filed a timely request for hearing before an ALJ. Id. On May 17, 2005, 46 days before the plaintiff's 55th birthday, the ALJ denied the plaintiff's claim for SSI benefits. Id. at 22. The ALJ held that although the plaintiff's impairments were severe, he possessed "the residual functional capacity to perform a significant range of light work" and was therefore not disabled. Id. The plaintiff sought review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council, which denied review on March 1, 2006. Id. at 5; Pl.'s Mot. at 3. The plaintiff filed suit in this court on March 9, 2006. The present motions followed on September 25 and November 13, 2006, respectively.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Review of Final Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security

Federal district courts have jurisdiction over civil cases challenging the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). In seeking judicial review of a final determination of the Social Security Commission, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that the Commissioner's decision is not based on substantial evidence or that incorrect legal standards were applied. Curry v. Apfel, 209 F.3d 117, 122 (2d Cir. 2000); Jones v. Shalala, 1994 WL 776887, at *2 (D.D.C. Aug. 31, 1994). 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) states that [t]he court shall have power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a hearing. The findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive[.]

Id. Substantial evidence "requires more than a scintilla, but can be satisfied by something less than a preponderance of the evidence." Fla. Mun. Power Agency v. FERC, 315 F.3d 362, 365-66 (D.C. Cir. 2003); see also Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197 (1938)). The D.C. Circuit has instructed that [i]n almost every case brought in the district court under the Act, the issue before the court is the substantiality of the evidence upon which the [Commissioner] based his findings of fact. The Act directs the court to enter its judgment upon the pleadings and the transcript of the record . . . If the case is one that involves the taking of additional evidence for any reason, the district court is obliged to obtain an enhancement or revision of the record by way of remand to the [Commissioner.]

Igonia v. Califano, 568 F.2d 1383, 1389 (D.C. Cir. 1977).

While the reviewing court affords considerable deference to the decision rendered by the ALJ and the Appeals Council, the court remains obligated to ensure that any decision rests upon substantial evidence. See Richardson, 402 U.S. 389. Accordingly, this standard of review "calls for careful scrutiny of the entire record," to determine whether the Commissioner, acting through the ALJ, "has analyzed all evidence and has sufficiently explained the weight he has given to obviously probative exhibits[.]" Butler v. Barnhart, 353 F.3d 992, 999 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (citing Simms v. Sullivan, 877 F.2d 1047, 1050 (D.C. Cir. 1989)). As the D.C. Circuit stated, In a disability proceeding, the ALJ "has the power and the duty to investigate fully all matters in issue, and to develop the comprehensive record required for ...


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.