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Bowman v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

October 20, 2017

JESSIE G. BOWMAN, 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, Jessie G. Bowman, 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 9 (cited herein as “Tr. ”)), and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 11, 13; see also Docket Entry 12 (Plaintiff's Memorandum), 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 and SSI, alleging an onset date of December 31, 2011. (Tr. 225-36.) Upon denial of those applications initially (Tr. 66-91, 128-33) and on reconsideration (Tr. 92-127, 138-55), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 156). Plaintiff, her attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 33-65.) The ALJ subsequently ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr. 13-27.) The Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6, 12, 333-34), 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 December 31, 2011, the alleged onset date.
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; obesity; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); major depressive disorder; and panic disorder with anxiety.
. . .
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 medium work . . . except [Plaintiff] can frequently climb ramps or stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crawl or crouch. [Plaintiff] cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, and must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards, dust, fumes, gases, poor ventilation and extremes of heat, which should be no more than frequent. Mentally, [Plaintiff] can perform simple, routine tasks with no interaction with the public and only occasional contact with coworkers and supervisors. She also can adapt to routine changes in the work environment.
. . .
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 [she] can perform.
. . .
11. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined in the [] Act, from December 31, 2011, through the ...

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