United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Faye Lester O'Quinn ("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 protectively filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") on November 1, 2006, alleging a disability onset date of December 31, 1988. (Tr. at 8, 48-49.) Her application was denied initially (Tr. at 54-57) and upon reconsideration (Tr. at 59-62). Thereafter, she requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. at 63.) On March 9, 2009, Plaintiff appeared and testified at a hearing, accompanied by her non-attorney representative, Reverend Thomas W. Motley. (Tr. at 8.) The ALJ ultimately determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act (Tr. at 14) and, on August 19, 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 1-4).
In rendering his disability determination, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on June 30, 1994.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of December 31, 1988 through her date last insured of June 30, 1994 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. ).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: post laminectomies and peripheral nerve damage (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did 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 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). "Light work" involves lifting or carrying no more than 20 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighting up to 10 pounds. The claimant was capable of: occasionally lifting/carrying twenty pounds; frequently lifting/carrying 10 pounds; standing or walking six hours of an eight hour workday; and sitting six ...