United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
ANGELA M. LORCH, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
J. Conrad, Jr. United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 11), and Memorandum in Support,
(Doc. No. 12), and Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment, (Doc. No. 13), and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No.
Angela Lorch (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review
of Defendant Social Security Commissioner's
(“Defendant” or “Commissioner”)
denial of her social security claim. (Doc. No. 1). On July
15, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for a period of
disability and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405 et seq. (Doc. Nos. 10 to
10-21: Administrative Record (“Tr.”) at 257-59).
Plaintiff alleged an inability to work due to disabling
conditions beginning on April 27, 2012. (Id. at
258). The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application
initially on October 17, 2013, and again after
reconsideration on June 3, 2014. (Id. at 173-76,
179-82). Plaintiff filed a timely written request for a
hearing. (Id. at 183-84).
October 31, 2014, Plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared
and testified at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). (Id. at 53-93). The ALJ issued
a decision on December 22, 2014, denying Plaintiff's
claims. (Id. at 151-68). Plaintiff filed a request
for review of the ALJ's decision on or about January 20,
2015, which was granted by the Appeals Council on February
24, 2015. (Id. at 169-72). The Appeals Council
concluded that the ALJ's December 22, 2014 decision did
not address or weigh the opinions expresses by Dr. Susan
Roque and Allison Tucker, and remanded to the ALJ for further
consideration of the Plaintiff's residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) with specific instruction to
evaluate the treating and nontreating source opinions.
(Id. at 170-71).
April 3, 2015, Plaintiff, represented by counsel, again
appeared and testified at a hearing before an ALJ-the same
ALJ who presided over the first hearing. (Id. at
29-49). The ALJ issued a decision on June 22, 2015, denying
Plaintiff's claims. (Id. at 9-28). Plaintiff
filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision on or
about July 14, 2015, which was denied by the Appeals Council
on December 16, 2015. (Id. at 1-8). Therefore, the
June 22, 2015 ALJ decision became the final decision of the
Complaint seeking judicial review and a remand of her case
was filed in this Court on February 15, 2016. (Doc. No. 1).
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 11),
and Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 12),
were filed July 11, 2016; and Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 13), and Defendant's
Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 14), were filed September 8,
2016. Plaintiff did not file a response to Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment and the time for doing so has
passed. The pending motions are ripe for adjudication.
question before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was under a
“disability” as that term of art is defined for
Social Security purposes, at any time between April 27, 2012,
and the date of his decision on June 22, 2015. (Tr. at 13). To
establish entitlement to benefits, Plaintiff has the burden
of proving that she was disabled within the meaning of the
Social Security Act. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137,
146 n.5 (1987). The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not
under a disability at any time from April 27, 2012, through
the date of his decision, June 22, 2015. (Tr. at 12-21).
Social Security Administration has established a five-step
sequential evaluation process for determining if a person is
disabled. 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,
(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 ...