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Mahon v. Berryhill

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

October 2, 2017

DEREK S. MAHON, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

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

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. Nos. 10, 11), and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. Nos. 12, 13).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Derek Mahon (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of Nancy A. Berryhill's (“Defendant” or “Commissioner”) denial of his social security claim. Plaintiff filed an application under Title II for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits on October 23, 2012 alleging an onset date of December 27, 2011. (Doc. Nos. 8 to 8-8: Administrative Record (“Tr.”) at 22, 338-46). (Doc. No. 8-3 at 22). The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application first on January 25, 2013 and again on May 8, 2013 upon reconsideration. (Id. at 22). On May 30, 2013, the Plaintiff filed a written request for a hearing. (Id. at 22). On September 15, 2014, Plaintiff, represented by counsel, participated in and testified at a video hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Id.). The ALJ issued a decision on December 22, 2014, denying Plaintiff's claims. (Id. at 19-44). Plaintiff filed a request for review with the Appeals Council, which was subsequently denied on May 20, 2016, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-5).

         Plaintiff's Complaint seeking judicial review and remand of his case was filed in this Court on July 19, 2016. (Doc. No. 2). Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 10), and Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 11), were filed on December 24, 2016; and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 12) and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 13), were filed on January 24, 2017. Plaintiff did not file a response to the 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 disabled under sections 216(i), 223(d) and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act. (Tr. 22). To establish entitlement to benefits, Plaintiff has the burden of proving that he was disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act.[1] Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n5 (1987). The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled from December 27, 2011 through the date of his decision, December 22, 2014. (Tr. 37).

         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 work-if yes, not disabled; and
(5) whether considering claimant's RFC, age, education, and work experience he or she can make an adjustment to other ...

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