United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
PORTIA D. JENKINS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. PATRICK AULD, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, Portia D. Jenkins, 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 Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security, denying Plaintiff's claim for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Act. (Docket Entry 1.) The Court has before it the certified administrative record (cited herein as "Tr. __"), as well as the parties' cross-motions for judgment (Docket Entries 10, 12). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiff filed an application for SSI on August 13, 2009, alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 2006. (Tr. 117-20.) Upon denial of the application initially and upon reconsideration (Tr. 65, 66, 67-70, 74-78), Plaintiff requested and received a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), at which Plaintiff, her representative, and a vocational expert ("VE") appeared. (Tr. 36-64.) The ALJ then ruled Plaintiff not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 15-32.) The Appeals Council subsequently denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6), thereby making the ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review.
In rendering this disability determination, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by Defendant:
1. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 13, 2009, the application date.
2. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: degenerative joint disease of her bilateral knees, degenerative disc disease, obesity, asthma, an anxiety-related disorder, major depressive disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning.
3. [Plaintiff] 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.
4.... [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work... except that she can only occasionally climb, balance, and crouch; can frequently stoop, kneel, and crawl; cannot climb ladders; and must avoid concentrated exposure to irritants, including fumes, dust and gases. With regard to her mental residual functional capacity, ... [Plaintiff] can perform simple routine tasks with simple, short instructions; can make simple work-related decisions; can tolerate few workplace changes; can occasionally interact with the public, coworkers, and supervisors; and cannot perform work requiring her to write reports.
5. [Plaintiff] is capable of performing past relevant work as a foam fabricator. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by [Plaintiff's] residual functional capacity.
6. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined in the... [Act], since August 13, 2009, the ...