United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
WILLIAM E. SMITH, District Judge.
the Court in this Social Security appeal is a Report and
Recommendation filed by Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond,
ECF No. 21 (“R. & R.”), which recommends that
the Plaintiff's Motion to Reverse the Determination of
the Commissioner be granted and the Commissioner's Motion
to Affirm be denied. Magistrate Judge Almond also recommends
that this matter be remanded for further proceedings in
accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons
stated in this order, the R. & R. is accepted and adopted
in full, over the objections. Accordingly, Plaintiff's
Motion to Reverse the Decision of the Commissioner, ECF No.
14, is GRANTED, and Defendant's Motion to Affirm the
Decision of the Commissioner, ECF No. 17, is DENIED.
August 5, 2016, Plaintiff applied for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) under the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), based on an alleged disability
beginning April 30, 2015. R. & R. 2. Following denial of
that application, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Id.
Thereafter, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision,
ultimately finding that Plaintiff could not meet the
requirements at step two of the Social Security
Administration's five-step analysis for evaluating
disability claims. Id. at 11-12; see 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520.
the ALJ concluded that, through the date last insured,
December 31, 2015, Plaintiff had “medically
determinable impairments of MRSA infections and a back
disorder.” R. & R. at 12, 13. The ALJ further
determined, however, that Plaintiff was not disabled under
the statute because she did not have “severe”
impairments which would “significantly limit the
ability to perform basic work activities for 12 consecutive
months.” Id. at 11-12 (internal citation
omitted). After Plaintiff's request for review was denied
by the Appeals Council, she filed the instant appeal with
this Court. Id. at 2.
review, Magistrate Judge Almond concluded that the ALJ's
step two denial was not supported by the evidence in the
record and that the matter should be remanded for further
administrative proceedings. Id. at 12, 14, 16.
Defendant filed a timely objection to the R. & R
(“Def.'s Obj.”), ECF No. 22.
Standard of Review
Court conducts a de novo review of the parts of the
R. & R. to which the parties have properly objected.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). As such, the Court reviews the
decision of the Commissioner using the same standard as
Magistrate Judge Almond.
primary objection to the R. & R. boils down to a
disagreement over the treatment of Plaintiff's medical
history as it relates to the eight-month period of
disability. See Def.'s Obj. 5-6.
Defendant challenges the conclusion that the ALJ
“t[ook] an overly narrow view of [Plaintiff's]
medical history.” R. & R. 12-13; see
Def.'s Obj. 2. Defendant argues instead that the
ALJ's evaluation of the evidence was proper given the
medical evidence demonstrating limited treatment during that
eight-month period. Def.'s Obj. 2. The R. & R. errs,
Defendant contends, “in holding that the ALJ was
required to find the evidence outside the relevant period
shed light on Plaintiff's functionality during the
relevant period.” Id. at 5.
true that a “claimant must show that her impairment(s)
reached a disabling level of severity” by the date last
insured. Moret Rivera v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., No. 93-1700, 1994 WL 107870, at *5 (1st Cir.
Mar. 23, 1994). However, medical evidence from outside of the
insured period may still be relevant “for what light
(if any) it sheds on the question whether claimant's
impairment(s) reached disabling severity before
claimant's insured status expired.” Id.
(emphasis in original). Additionally, a hearing officer is
“required to consider all the evidence, ” but is
not “obligated. . . to address directly every piece of
evidence.” DaSilva-Santos v. Astrue, 596
F.Supp.2d 181, 188 (D. Mass. 2009).
careful review, the Court agrees with Magistrate Judge
Almond's analysis of the ALJ's treatment of
Plaintiff's medical history and the conclusion that,
given the full context of that history, certain of the
ALJ's findings as to Plaintiff's back impairment and
MRSA condition are “irreconcilable with the
record”. R. & R. 14-15. Accordingly, the Court
further agrees with Magistrate Judge Almond that
“[r]emand is warranted to further review
[Plaintiff's] conditions in historical context” to
make a step two disability determination. Id. at
reasons stated herein, the R. & R., ECF No. 21, is
ACCEPTED and its reasoning is ADOPTED in full, over the
objections. Consequently, Plaintiff's Motion to Reverse
the Decision of the Commissioner, ECF No. 14, is GRANTED, and
Defendant's Motion to Affirm the Decision of the
Commissioner, ECF No. 17, is DENIED. Final Judgment shall
enter in favor of Plaintiff and ...