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Shook v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

October 5, 2017

JOHN EDWARD SHOOK, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1]Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          L. Patrick Auld United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff, John Edward Shook, 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”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). (Docket Entry 2.) Defendant has filed the certified administrative record (Docket Entry 8 (cited herein as “Tr. ”)), and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 12, 16; see also Docket Entry 13 (Plaintiff's Memorandum), Docket Entry 17 (Defendant's Memorandum)). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, alleging an onset date of March 15, 2009. (Tr. 213-24.) Upon denial of those applications initially (Tr. 71-102, 139-43) and on reconsideration (Tr. 103-38, 147-53), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 156-58). Plaintiff, his attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended the hearing (Tr. 43-70), at which Plaintiff amended his onset date to August 1, 2013 (Tr. 46-48, 234). The ALJ subsequently ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr. 22-37.) The Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6, 15-21, 321-23), 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] me[t] the insured status requirements of the [] Act through December 31, 2013.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 1, 2013, the amended alleged onset date.
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: hypertension; spinal stenosis, hypertrophy, and osteoarthritis; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); history of alcoholism; history of polysubstance abuse; and borderline intellectual functioning.
. . .
4. [Plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
. . .
5. . . . [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform light work . . . except [Plaintiff] may occasionally climb ladders. [Plaintiff] must avoid concentrated exposure to fumes. Additionally, [Plaintiff] may perform simple, routine, and repetitive tasks in a stable environment at a nonproduction pace.
. . .
6. [Plaintiff] is unable to perform any past relevant work.
. . .
10. Considering [Plaintiff's] age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that [he] can perform.
. . .
11. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined in the [] Act, from August 1, 2013, through the ...

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