United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
SOLOMON T. NUNNALLY, JR., Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,  Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Solomon T. Nunnally, Jr. ("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 his 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 his application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") on October 11, 2006, alleging a disability onset date of April 18, 2005. (Tr. at 97-98.) His application was denied initially (Tr. at 53, 55-58) and upon reconsideration (Tr. at 54, 67-69). Thereafter, he requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. at 71.) Plaintiff, along with his attorney, attended the subsequent hearing on February 13, 2009. (Tr. at 13.) The ALJ ultimately determined that Plaintiff was disabled from April 18, 2005 through May 30, 2006, when he experienced medical improvement and no longer qualified as disabled under the Act. (Tr. at 22.) On May 26, 2011, 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 1-5).
In rendering his determination that Plaintiff was not disabled beginning May 31, 2006, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:
1. The claimant met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act as of April 18, 2005, the date the claimant became disabled.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 18, 2005, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1520(b) and 20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. ).
3. At all times relevant to this decision, the claimant has had the following severe impairment: residuals of a left rotator cuff tear (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
13. Beginning on May 31, 2006, the claimant has not had an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the impairments listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1594(f)(2)).
14. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, beginning on May 31, 2006, the claimant has had the residual functional capacity to perform light work, as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b), except he is limited to occasional pushing and pulling with the left upper extremity and limited to occasional reaching overhead, handling, and fingering of the left upper extremity.
(Tr. at 16, 20.)
The ALJ determined that the demands of Plaintiff's past relevant work exceeded the above residual functional capacity ("RFC"). However, the ALJ then considered Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC in conjunction with the Medical-Vocational Guidelines ("the grids") contained in 20 C.F.R. Chapter III, Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2, and found that Plaintiff could perform other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. ...