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Mason v. Colvin

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

July 21, 2015

CLARA LEE MASON, 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, Clara Lee Mason, 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 Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Act. (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 13, 15). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB on July 19, 2010, alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 2008. (Tr. 157-58.) She subsequently amended the alleged onset date to July 1, 2010. (Tr. 181.) Upon denial of Plaintiff's applications initially (Tr. 74) and on reconsideration (Tr. 90), she requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Plaintiff, her attorney, and a vocational expert ("VE") attended the hearing. (Tr. 33-54.) By decision dated September 13, 2012, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 20-32.) On October 20, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 3-5), 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] last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2011.
....
2. [Plaintiff] did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of July 1, 2010 through her date last insured of December 31, 2011.
....
3. Through her last date insured, [Plaintiff] had the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis bilateral knees and left shoulder; dequervain's tenosynovitis of the left wrist and left thumb; bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome with remote history of release surgery; hypertension; obesity; depression; and anxiety.
....
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.
....
5.... [T]hrough the date last insured, [Plaintiff] had the residual functional capacity to perform light work... except she was limited to frequent, not constant, use of the bilateral upper extremities. She could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She must have avoided concentrated exposure to extremes of cold and concentrated exposure to hazards such as unprotected heights and machinery. She was limited to performing only simple, routine, and repetitive tasks, in that she can apply common sense understanding to ...

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