United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
CINDY L. BUCKNER, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,  Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Cindy Buckner ("Plaintiff") brought this action pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. § 405(g)), to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (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 an application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") on January 6, 2004, alleging a disability onset date of November 30, 2001. (Tr. at 47, 51.) Her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. at 31-32.) Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. at 33.) Present at the hearing, held on August 7, 2007, were Plaintiff, her attorney, her husband, and a vocational expert. (Tr. at 15.) The ALJ ultimately determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act (Tr. at 29) and, on March 18, 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 3).
In rendering his disability determination, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2007.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 1, 2004, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1520(b) and 404.1571 et seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: multiple symptoms consistent with multiple sclerosis without definitive diagnosis; cervical radiculopathy; degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine at L4-L5; and history of asthma (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 494.1525, and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work with the following limitations: lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand six hours in an eight hour day; walk six hours in an eight hour day; sit six hours in an eight hour day; requires the opportunity to alternate sitting and standing hourly; occasional climbing of stairs; no climbing of ladders; occasional balancing, stooping/bending, kneeling, crouching/squatting; no more than frequent reaching and handling; avoid exposure to temperature extremes, fumes, odors, poor ventilation; avoid workplace hazards ...