United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
JAMES W. SMITH, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
C. Mullen, United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the court upon Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 11) and the
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 13).
Having carefully considered such motions and reviewed the
pleadings, the court enters the following findings,
conclusions, and Order.
filed an application for a period of disability and
Disability Insurance Benefits in May of 2012, alleging a
disability onset date of April 15, 2010. Plaintiff's
claim was denied both initially and on reconsideration;
thereafter, Plaintiff requested and was granted a hearing
before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) at
which Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date to April 25,
2012. After conducting a hearing, the ALJ issued a decision
which was unfavorable to Plaintiff, from which Plaintiff
appealed to the Appeals Council. On November 10, 2015, the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
making the ALJ's decision Defendant's final
administrative decision on Plaintiff's applications.
Thereafter, Plaintiff timely filed this action.
Standard of Review
only issues on review are whether the Commissioner applied
the correct legal standards and whether the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390
(1971); Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th
Cir. 1990). Review by a federal court is not de
novo, Smith v. Schwieker, 795 F.2d 343, 345
(4th Cir. 1986); rather, inquiry is limited to whether there
was “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion, ”
Richardson v. Perales, supra. Even if the
undersigned were to find that a preponderance of the evidence
weighed against the Commissioner's decision, the
Commissioner's decision would have to be affirmed if
supported by substantial evidence. Hays v. Sullivan,
court has read the transcript of Plaintiff's
administrative hearing, closely read the decision of the ALJ,
and reviewed the exhibits contained in the administrative
record. The issue is not whether a court might have reached a
different conclusion had it been presented with the same
testimony and evidentiary materials, but whether the decision
of the administrative law judge is supported by substantial
evidence. The undersigned finds that it is.
five-step process, known as “sequential” review,
is used by the Commissioner in determining whether a Social
Security claimant is disabled. The Commissioner evaluates a
disability claim under Title II pursuant to the following
(1) Whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
(2) Whether the claimant has a severe medically determinable
impairment, or a combination of impairments that is severe;
(3) Whether the claimant's impairment or combination of
impairments meets or medically equals one of the Listings in
20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1;
(4) Whether the claimant has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform the requirements of his ...