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Scott v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

August 31, 2017

DAVID LEON SCOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. [1]

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          L. PATRICK AULD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, David Leon Scott, brought this action pursuant to the Social Security Act (the “Act”) to obtain judicial review of a final decision of Defendant, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). (Docket Entry 1.) Defendant has filed the certified administrative record (Docket Entry 9 (cited herein as “Tr. ”)) and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 11, 13); see also Docket Entry 12 (Plaintiff's Brief), Docket Entry 14 (Defendant's Memorandum)). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff applied for DIB, alleging a disability onset date of June 4, 2012. (Tr. 146-48.) Upon denial of that application initially (Tr. 51-60, 78-82) and on reconsideration (Tr. 61-73, 84-87), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 88-89). Plaintiff, his attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 24-50.) The ALJ subsequently ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr. 10-20.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-5, 8-9, 223-30), 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] meets the insured status requirements of the [] Act through December 31, 2016.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 4, 2012, the alleged onset date.
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: annular tear and degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine at ¶ 4-5 and facet arthropathy of the lumbar spine.
4. [Plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work . . . except would need the option to stand for a couple of minutes a couple of times per hour. [Plaintiff] can frequently climb ramps and stairs, balance, and stoop, and can occasionally kneel, crouch and crawl. [Plaintiff] cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds.
6. [Plaintiff] is capable of performing past relevant work as a production coordinator. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by [Plaintiff's] residual functional capacity.
In the alternative, considering [Plaintiff's] age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, [Plaintiff] has also acquired work skills from past relevant work that are transferable to other occupations with jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy.
7. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined in the [] Act, from June 4, 2012, through the date of this decision.

(Tr. 15-20 (bold font and internal parenthetical citations omitted).)

         II. DISCUSSION

         Federal law “authorizes judicial review of the Social Security Commissioner's denial of social security benefits.” Hines v. Barnhart, 453 F.3d 559, 561 (4th Cir. 2006). However, “the scope of [the Court's] review of [such a] decision . . . is extremely limited.” Frady v. Harris, 646 F.2d 143, 144 (4th Cir. 1981). Plaintiff has not established entitlement to relief under the extremely limited review standard.

         A. ...


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