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Payne v. Colvin

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

February 11, 2015

ARNOLD PAYNE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, [1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM L. OSTEEN, Jr. District Judge.

Plaintiff Arnold Payne ("Plaintiff") brought this action to challenge a decision of the Social Security Administration ("Administration" or "SSA") to limit the amounts of Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") awarded to him under Title II of the Social Security Act ("Act") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") awarded to him under Title XVI of the Act.

The Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") has filed a Motion to Dismiss, claiming that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear Plaintiff's claim. (Doc. 8.)[2] In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that this court has jurisdiction under section 205(g) of the Act, as amended and codified at 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and under section 1631(c) of the Act, as amended and codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c). (Complaint ("Compl.") (Doc. 2).) Plaintiff has responded to the Commissioner's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 16), and the matter is now ripe for review.

For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's motion will be granted, and Plaintiff's case will be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

The administrative record has been certified to this court for review.[3] Plaintiff filed an application for DIB and SSI on July 1, 2009, alleging a disability beginning on May 11, 2007. The claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on November 16, 2010, and in a decision dated December 10, 2010, the ALJ granted Plaintiff's application for the closed period of May 11, 2007 to November 16, 2010 (the "closed period"). (Tr. at 11-20).

The ALJ found that, during the closed period, Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar and cervical spines (status post lumbar and cervical surgeries); degenerative acromioclavicular joint disease; osteoarthritis of the left acromioclavicular joint; adhesive capsulitis; and bicep tendonitis (status post shoulder surgeries). (Id. at 15.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments, alone or in combination, did not meet or equal a Listing impairment. (Id.)

Nonetheless, the ALJ determined that, through the closed period, Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a less than full range of sedentary work. He had the ability to lift and/or carry less than 10 pounds, sit less than 2 hours in an 8-hour workday, and stand and/or walk less than 2 hours in an 8-hour workday. The ALJ determined that these impairments imposed additional limitations that significantly interfered with Plaintiff's ability to perform full time work activity on a consistent and sustained basis. As there were no jobs that existed that Plaintiff was capable of performing, the ALJ found that, for the duration of the closed period, Plaintiff was disabled. (Id. at 15, 17, 18.)

Having found that Plaintiff was disabled during the closed period, the ALJ considered whether the claimant was disabled after the closed period. The ALJ found that Plaintiff experienced medical improvement as of November 17, 2010. (Id. at 18.) Beginning at that time, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the RFC to perform a full range of medium work. (Id. at 19.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was able to perform his past relevant work as a saw operator. (Id.) Thus, as of November 17, 2010, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled. (Id.)

On December 26, 2010, the Social Security Administration's Office of Central Operations issued Plaintiff a Notice of Award. The Notice recognized that Plaintiff became disabled as of May 11, 2007, but the Notice indicated that the Administration "can pay benefits no earlier than 12 months before the month of filing." (SSA Notice of Award (Doc. 9-5) at 1.) Because Plaintiff filed his application for benefits on July 1, 2009, he could only receive back payments starting on the date twelve months before he filed his application- July 1, 2008. (Id.)

On February 4, 2011, Plaintiff through counsel wrote a letter to the ALJ, stating that the Notice of Award "does not comply with the agreement [Plaintiff] entered with the [ALJ], " as Plaintiff and the ALJ "agreed... that [Plaintiff's] benefits would begin May 2007 not July 2008." (Tr. at 190.) Plaintiff requested that the ALJ "issue an Order directing the payment center to pay [Plaintiff] Social Security Disability and/or Supplemental Security Benefits from May 2007 through November 16, 2010 pursuant to the agreement [Plaintiff] made with [the ALJ]." (Id.)

Three days later on February 7, 2011, Plaintiff filed a "Request for Review of Hearing Decision/Order" of the "unfavorable decision that was issued on December 10, 2011 [sic]." (Id. at 5-6.) In his request for review, Plaintiff claimed that the ALJ's decision "was not supported by substantial competent evidence of records" and that the ALJ "committed error of law." (Id. at 6.) The Appeals Council disagreed and, in a Notice dated August 30, 2012, stated that it "found no reason under [its] rules to review the Administrative Law Judge's decision." (Id. at 1.)

Based on the Appeals Council's denial of Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision, the ALJ's decision is the final decision of the Commissioner. (Id.) On October 22, 2012, Plaintiff filed the present action seeking judicial review of "a decision(s) of ...


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