United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. PATRICK AULD, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, Lawanda Parms, 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 Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security, denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act (the "Act"). (See Docket Entry 2.) The Court has before it the certified administrative record (cited herein as "Tr. __") and the parties have filed cross-motions for judgment (Docket Entries 26, 28). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.
Plaintiff applied for DIB, alleging a disability onset date of July 22, 2006. (Tr. 152.) After denial of the application, both initially (Tr. 63) and on reconsideration (Tr. 64), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") (Tr. 81). Plaintiff, her attorney, and a vocational expert ("VE") appeared at the hearing. (Tr. 23-62.) The ALJ thereafter determined that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled within the meaning of the Act. (Tr. 9-18.) After the Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-3), Plaintiff instituted an action in this Court (Tr. 702). Defendant agreed to a voluntary remand, which the Court ordered. (Tr. 703-04.)
On remand, a new ALJ conducted a new hearing, attended by Plaintiff, her attorney, and a VE. (Tr. 632-72.) The ALJ then found, again, that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled within the meaning of the Act. (Tr. 673-82.) The Appeals Council subsequently denied Plaintiff's request for review, thereby making the ALJ's determination the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review. (Tr. 687-90.)
In rendering that disability ruling, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:
1. [Plaintiff] last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on March 31, 2012.
2. [Plaintiff] did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of July 22, 2006[, ] through her date last insured of March 31, 2012 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. ).
3. Through the date last insured, [Plaintiff] had the following severe impairments: cervical spondylosis, headaches, seizure disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome, obesity, and anxiety (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, [Plaintiff] did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, [Plaintiff] had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except that [Plaintiff] is limited to frequent handling and fingering, no driving an automobile for completion of job tasks; and no more than moderate exposure to noise. [Plaintiff] can perform occasional climbing of ramps and stairs, occasional balancing, and frequent stooping, crouching, and crawling. She cannot climb ropes/ladders/scaffolds, and she should avoid even moderate exposure to ...