United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
C. Keesler United States Magistrate Judge.
MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on Plaintiff's
“Motion For Summary Judgment” (Document No. 16)
and Defendant's “Motion For Summary Judgment”
(Document No. 18). The parties have consented to Magistrate
Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B),
and these motions are ripe for disposition. After careful
consideration of the written arguments, the administrative
record, and applicable authority, the undersigned will direct
that Plaintiff's “Motion For Summary
Judgment” be denied; that Defendant's
“Motion For Summary Judgment” be denied;
and that the Commissioner's decision be vacated
and this matter be remanded for further
Stacy Oates (“Plaintiff”), through counsel, seeks
judicial review of an unfavorable administrative decision on
his application for disability benefits. (Document No. 1). On
or about August 23, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for
supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1383, alleging an inability to
work due to a disabling condition beginning January 1, 2011.
(Transcript of the Record of Proceedings (“Tr.”)
32). The Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner” or “Defendant”) denied
Plaintiff's application initially on or about April 19,
2013, and again after reconsideration on or about June 13,
2013. (Tr. 32, 117, 126). In its “Notice of
Reconsideration, ” the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) included the following explanation of its
On your application you stated that you are disabled because
of Bipolar Disorder, High Blood Pressure, Pain, Anxiety,
Reflux and Schizophrenia.
The medical evidence shows that your condition is not severe
enough to be considered disabling. We realize that your
condition keeps you from doing some types of work, but it
does not keep you from doing less demanding work. Based on
your age, education, and past work experience, you can do
other work. It has been decided, therefore, that you are not
disabled according to the Social Security Act. You are able
to think, act in your own interest, communicate, handle your
own affairs, and adjust to ordinary emotional stresses
without significant difficulties.
We do not have sufficient vocational information to determine
whether you can perform any of your past relevant work.
However, based on the evidence in file, we have determined
that you can adjust to other work.
filed a timely written request for a hearing on or about June
22, 2013. (Tr. 32). On January 15, 2015, Plaintiff appeared
and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge
Clinton C. Hicks (the “ALJ”). (Tr. 33, 45-78). In
addition, Brenda Cartwright, a vocational expert
(“VE”), and Bradford D. Myler, Plaintiff's
attorney, appeared at the hearing. (Tr. 32, 47, 74-78).
Plaintiff amended his alleged disability onset date to August
23, 2012. (Tr. 49).
issued an unfavorable decision on April 6, 2015, denying
Plaintiff's claim. (Tr. 32-40). On or about May 12, 2015,
Plaintiff filed a request for review of the ALJ's
decision, which was denied by the Appeals Council on or about
August 25, 2016. (Tr. 1-4, 28). The ALJ decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's review request. (Tr. 1).
“Complaint” seeking a reversal of the ALJ's
determination was filed in this Court on October 20, 2016.
(Document No. 1). On January 11, 2017, the undersigned was
assigned to this case as the referral Magistrate Judge. The
parties filed a “Joint Stipulation of Consent to
Jurisdiction By U.S. Magistrate Judge” (Document No.
11) on May 2, 2017. On May 2, 2017, the case was reassigned
to the undersigned.
31, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff's consent motion
for an extension of time to file a motion for summary
judgment. (Document No. 15). In addition, the Court ordered
“that Plaintiff's counsel shall confer with
Defendant's counsel prior to filing a motion for summary
judgment and discuss Plaintiff's alleged errors, as well
as whether Mascio v. Colvin, 780 F.3d 632 (4th Cir.
2015), is applicable to this case.” Id. The
record does not appear to indicate that the parties conferred
“Motion For Summary Judgment” (Document No. 16)
and “Plaintiff's Memorandum Of Law In Support Of A
Motion For Summary Judgment Pursuant To Fed.R.Civ.P.
56” (Document No. 17) were filed June 29, 2017; and
Defendant's “Motion For Summary Judgment”
(Document No. 18) and “Memorandum Of Law In Support Of
The Commissioner's Motion For Summary Judgment”
(Document No. 19) were filed July 27, 2017. Plaintiff
declined to file a response/reply brief, and the time to do
so has lapsed. See “Social Security Briefing
Order, ” Case No. 3:13-MC-198-FDW, (Document No. 1)
(W.D. N.C. Dec. 23, 2013).
pending motions are now ripe for review and disposition.
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and §
1383(c)(3), limits this Court's review of a final
decision of the Commissioner to: (1) whether substantial
evidence supports the Commissioner's decision; and (2)
whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards.
Richardson v. ...