United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
ROBERT J. CONRAD, Jr., District Judge.
THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 9), and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 10), and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 11), and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 12).
A. Procedural Background
Plaintiff Johnathan Henderson ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's denial of his social security claim. (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff protectively applied for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and for supplemental security income (SSI) payments on January 6, 2011, alleging disability beginning March 1, 2010. (Tr. 153, 155, 157). His applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 130, 139). At Plaintiff's request an administrative law judge (ALJ) held a hearing on July 19, 2012. (Tr. 47). Plaintiff, represented by counsel, testified at the hearing, as did a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 47-73). On September 20, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 16-29). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on November 6, 2013, thus making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-5).
B. Factual Background
The question before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was disabled under Sections 216(i), 223(d) and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act. (Tr. 16). After reviewing all the evidence, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff "has not been under a disability within the meaning of the Social Security Act from March 1, 2010, through the date of this decision." (Id.).
To determine whether a claimant is disabled, the SSA established a five-step sequential evaluation process. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). The five steps are:
(1) whether claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity-if yes, not disabled;
(2) whether claimant has a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment, or combination of impairments that meet the duration requirement in § 404.1509-if no, not disabled;
(3) whether claimant has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listings in appendix 1 and meets the duration requirement-if yes, disabled;
(4) whether claimant has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform his or her past relevant work-if yes, not disabled; and
(5) whether considering claimant's RFC, age, education, and work experience he or she can make an adjustment to ...