United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Michael Mitchell Wilson ("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 his 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 his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income Benefits ("SSI") on February 8, 2008 and December 13, 2007, respectively, alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 1979. (Tr. at 10, 142-43.) He later amended his alleged onset date to March 30, 2000, the day before the expiration of his insured status. (Tr. at 10, 13, 200.) Plaintiff's applications were denied initially (Tr. at 59-60, 67-74) and upon reconsideration (Tr. at 61-62, 79-105). Thereafter, he requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. at 106-07.) On February 25, 2010, Plaintiff, along with his attorney and an impartial vocational expert, attended his administrative hearing. (Tr. at 10.) The ALJ ultimately determined that Plaintiff was disabled within the meaning of the Act beginning December 13, 2007, the date of his SSI application, but not disabled from his alleged onset date through his date last insured. (Tr. at 19, 20-21.) In other words, the ALJ found Plaintiff disabled for purposes of SSI, but not DIB. On January 28, 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 disability determination, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 30, 2000, the amended alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq. ).
3. Since the amended alleged onset date of disability, March 30, 2000, the claimant has had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease; hypertension; a mood disorder; and a history of a substance abuse disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
6. Absent substance use, the claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), and 416.920(d)).
7. During the period through January 5, 2007, if the claimant had been abstinent from use of drugs and alcohol, he would have had the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967.
(Tr. at 13-15.)
After comparing the above residual functional capacity ("RFC") to the demands of Plaintiff's past relevant work, the ALJ determined that, if Plaintiff had stopped his substance abuse, he would have been able to perform his past work as a recreation aide and parking lot attendant. (Tr. at 18.) Plaintiff therefore was not under a "disability, " as defined in the Act, from his alleged onset date through his date last insured. (Tr. at 19.) However, the ALJ also found that, beginning on December 13, 2007, the date of Plaintiff's SSI application, Plaintiff "has had the [RFC] to perform less than a full range of sedentary work... and has been unable to perform any work on a regular and ...