United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Susan Smith Huff ("Plaintiff") brought this action pursuant to Sections 205(g) and 1631(c)(3) of the Social Security Act (the "Act"), as amended (42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3)), to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claims for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income under, respectively, Titles II and XVI of the Act. The parties have filed cross-motions for judgment, and the administrative record has been certified to the Court for review.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiff filed her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") on July 25, 2007 and May 25, 2007, respectively, alleging a disability onset date of July 1, 2001. (Tr. at 22.) Her applications were denied initially (Tr. at 34, 36-39) and upon reconsideration (Tr. at 37, 42-44). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. at 45-47.) Plaintiff, along with her attorney and a vocational expert ("VE") attended the subsequent hearing on December 2, 2009. (Tr. at 22.) The ALJ ultimately determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act (Tr. at 33) and, on July 8, 2010, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the decision, thereby making the ALJ's conclusion the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review (Tr. at 5-7).
In rendering his disability determination, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:
1. The claimant met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through March 31, 2008.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 1, 2001, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1520(b), 404.1571 et seq., 416.920(b) and 416.971 et seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following severe combination of impairments: a polysubstance abuse disorder; a bipolar disorder; asthma; and hepatitis C infection (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. The claimant's mental impairments, including the substance abuse disorder, meet Listings 12.04 and 12.09 of 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d) and 416.920(d)).
5. If the claimant stopped the substance use, the remaining limitations would still cause more than a minimal impact on the claimant's ability to perform basic work activities. Therefore, the claimant would continue to ...