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Sanders v. Colvin

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

February 4, 2015

ERICA MCLUCAS SANDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

L. PATRICK AULD, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Erica McLucas Sanders, brought this action pursuant to the Social Security Act (the "Act") to obtain judicial review of a final decision of Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security, denying a claim for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). (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 11, 12). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed an application for DIB, alleging a disability onset date of September 8, 2009. (Tr. 170-78.) Upon denial of that application initially (Tr. 71-80, 117-25) and on reconsideration (Tr. 81-93, 128-35), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") (Tr. 136-37). At the outset of the hearing, Plaintiff amended her onset date to August 31, 2011, due to her receipt of unemployment compensation through that date. (Tr. 21, 164.) Plaintiff, her attorney, and a vocational expert ("VE") attended the hearing. (Tr. 17-70.) By decision dated September 21, 2012, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 94-108.) On January 7, 2014, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6), making the ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review.

In rendering that disability determination, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:

1. [Plaintiff] meets the insured status requirements of the [] Act through December 31, 2014.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 31, 2011, the amended alleged onset date.
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: bilateral patella chondromalacia; left shoulder pain (bursitis); foot pain from gout; bilateral osteoarthrosis; and depression.
....
4. [Plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
....
5.... [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except [Plaintiff] can occasionally reach overhead; can occasionally climb, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; and can perform simple routine repetitive tasks.
....
6. [Plaintiff] is unable to perform any past relevant work.
....
10. Considering [Plaintiff's] age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that [Plaintiff] can perform.
....
11. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined in the [] Act, from September 8, 2009, ...

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