United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
JOI ELIZABETH PEAKE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Majeed Assar ("Plaintiff") brought this action pursuant to Sections 205(g) of the Social Security Act (the "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 claims for Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II 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 on December 13, 2006 alleging a disability onset date of October 8, 1998. (Tr. at 56, 128-35.) His application was a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (Tr. at 78-79.) Present at the hearing, held on April 7, 2009, were Plaintiff, his attorney, an impartial medical advisor, and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. at 14.) The ALJ ultimately determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act (Tr. at 21) and, on July 16, 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 1-8).
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, 2003.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from his alleged onset date of October 8, 1998 through his date last insured of June 30, 2003 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. ).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis of the knees; degenerative disc disease; and bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome (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) with postural restrictions.
(Tr. at 16-17.)
The ALJ then considered the VE's testimony regarding the above residual functional capacity ("RFC") and determined that Plaintiff was able to perform his past relevant work as a pizza cook. Plaintiff therefore was not under a "disability, " as defined in the Act, ...