United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
King, Magistrate Judge United States District Court
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's complaint
seeking judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
of the final decision of the Commissioner denying her claim
for Social Security disability benefits. The fact and law
summaries of Plaintiff and Defendant are at Dockets 22 and
25, and the case is ripe for determination.
parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned
Magistrate Judge to determine this case, with any appeal
lying before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Docket 14.
the Court is unable to conduct a meaningful review of
Plaintiff's claims due to internal inconsistency in the
administrative law judge's (ALJ's) findings, the
Court will REMAND this matter to the Commissioner for a new
decision and additional findings.
argues that, although they purport to allow her to perform
light work, in fact, the ALJ's residual functional
capacity (RFC) findings “support a sedentary exertional
capacity as opposed to light.” Docket 22, p. 4.
Therefore, according to the argument, the ALJ's RFC
findings require a conclusion that she has a maximum
exertional capacity for sedentary work. It follows (so the
argument goes) that, in light of her age, education, and
prior work experience, Plaintiff is entitled to an ultimate
finding of disability pursuant to a direct application of
Rule 201.14 of Appendix 2 of the regulations (the so-called
medical-vocational guidelines, or grids). Docket 22, p. 2.
reasons below, the ALJ's RFC findings as a whole are too
internally inconsistent to draw any firm conclusion about
Plaintiff's maximum exertional capacity. Because the
difference between an RFC to perform either sedentary or
light work may determine the outcome of this case, a remand
is required. See Villarreal v. Comm'r, No.
SA-16-CA-272-FB, WL 8202967, at *11 (W.D. Tex. Nov. 22, 2016)
(collecting authorities for the proposition that
“[w]hen apparent internal inconsistencies in an
ALJ's [RFC] assessment may have an outcome determinative
impact upon a social security determination under the Medical
Vocational Guideline grids, courts recognize that a remand to
clarify these inconsistencies is often necessary”);
see also Deveraeaux v. Comm'r, No.
12-cv-1168-WJM, WL 2393075, at *9 (D. Col. May 31, 2013)
(“[B]ecause of the [internal] inconsistency [in the
ALJ's RFC findings], the Court is left with no choice but
to remand this case to the Commissioner for rehearing so that
material issues to Plaintiff's disability claim may be
ALJ's RFC Findings
ALJ found that Plaintiff has the following residual
functional capacity (RFC):
Exertional limitations (based on definition of
“light” work in Social Security Ruling (SSR)
83-10, 1983 WL 31251): After careful consideration of
the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant
has the [RFC] to perform light work … meaning the
claimant can occasionally lift 20 pounds and frequently lift
10 pounds, and can stand, sit, and walk for six hours out of
an 8- hour day.
Additional postural and other limitations: She
requires a sit/stand option where she can sit for 30 minutes,
then stand for 5-15 minutes, and is limited to walking
½ block at a time. She can occasionally handle objects
with her bilateral hands, frequently reach and reach
overhead, and frequently climb ramps and stairs, balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can occasionally climb
ladders, ropes or scaffolds, crawl, and bend.
Mental limitations: She is limited to simple,
repetitive, unskilled tasks, can occasionally interact with
the public, supervisors and co-workers, can frequently
respond to routine changes in the work setting, but will be
off-task 5% of each workday due to the combination of her
(ALJ's decision, administrative record (AR), p. 14).
ALJ's RFC findings are ...