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Sneed v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

September 26, 2017

DANNY CHARLES SNEED, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Defendant.

          ORDER

          ROBERT J. CONRAD, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on pro se Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 12); Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 14); and Defendant's Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 15).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Danny Charles Sneed (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of Nancy A. Berryhill's (“Defendant” or “Commissioner”) denial of his social security claim. (Doc. No. 1). On November 19, 2012, 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. 11 to 11-8: Administrative Record at 296). Plaintiff alleged an inability to work due to disabling conditions beginning on June 29, 2011. (Id. at 112). The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application on January 9, 2013. (Id. at 48-67). Plaintiff filed a timely written request for a hearing on April 8, 2013. (Id. at 112).

         On October 14, 2014, Plaintiff, accompanied by a non-attorney representative, participated in and testified at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Id. at 112). The ALJ issued a decision on January 7, 2014, denying Plaintiff's claims. (Id. at 109-25). Plaintiff filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision on or about April 1, 2016, which was denied by the Appeals Council on October 9, 2015. (Id. at 13, 1-7). The January 7, 2014 ALJ decision therefore became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Plaintiff's Complaint seeking judicial review and a remand of her case was filed in this Court on May 26, 2016. (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 12), was filed December 2, 2016. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 14), and Defendant's Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 15), were filed February 6, 2017. 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.

         B. Factual Background

         The question before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was under a “disability” as defined for Social Security purposes, from June 29, 2011 through the date Plaintiff was last insured, March 31, 2014.[1] (Doc. No. 11-7 at 112). To establish entitlement to benefits, Plaintiff has the burden of proving that he 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 from June 29, 2011 through March 31, 2014. (Doc. No. 11-7 at 112-21).

         The 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, not disabled;
(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 duration requirement-if yes, disabled;
(4) whether claimant has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform his or her past relevant ...

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