United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Patrick Auld, United States Magistrate Judge.
Nesrin Shrsher, 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 2.) Defendant has filed the certified
administrative record (Docket Entry 7 (cited herein as
“Tr. ”)), and both parties have moved for
judgment (Docket Entries 10, 12; see also Docket
Entry 11 (Plaintiff's Brief); Docket Entry 13
(Defendant's Memorandum)). For the reasons that follow,
the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.
applied for DIB, alleging an onset date of May 20, 2012. (Tr.
182-85.) Upon denial of that application initially (Tr. 64,
82-86) and on reconsideration (Tr. 65-81, 89-92), Plaintiff
requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 95-97). Plaintiff, her
attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended
the hearing. (Tr. 31-63.) The ALJ subsequently ruled that
Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr.
10-25.) The Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's
request for review (Tr. 1-5, 8-9, 282-84), thereby making the
ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's final decision for
purposes of judicial review.
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 May 20, 2012, the alleged onset date.
. . .
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: seizure
disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder,
migraine headaches, degenerative disc disease, and obesity.
. . .
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,
. . .
5. . . . [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to
perform medium work . . . except [she] cannot be exposed to
workplace hazards. [Plaintiff] can understand, remember, and
carry out simple, routine, repetitive tasks, consistent with
reasoning level one or two in the [D]ictionary of
[O]ccupational [T]itles (“DOT”), meaning that she
can apply common sense understanding to carry out simple,
one-to-two step instructions and deal with standardized
situations with occasional or no variables in or from the
situations encountered on the job. [Plaintiff] can have no
interaction with the general public but she can have
occasional interaction with coworkers and supervisors. She
can respond to routine changes in a non-production work
. . .
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 [Plaintiff] can perform.
. . .
11. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined
in the  Act, from May 20, 2012, through the date of this
(Tr. 15-24 (bold font and internal parenthetical citations
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.
Standard of Review
are not to try [a Social Security] case de novo.”
Oppenheim v. Finch, 495 F.2d 396, 397 (4th Cir.
1974). Instead, the Court “must uphold the factual
findings of the ALJ if they are supported by substantial
evidence and were reached through application of the correct
legal standard.” Hines, 453 F.3d at 561
(internal brackets and quotation marks omitted).
“Substantial evidence means ‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Hunter v.
Sullivan, 993 F.2d 31, 34 (4th Cir. 1992) (quoting
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)).
“It consists of more than a mere scintilla of evidence
but may be somewhat less than a preponderance.”
Mastro v. Apfel, 270 F.3d 171, 176 (4th Cir. 2001)
(brackets and internal quotation marks omitted). “If
there is evidence to justify a refusal to direct a verdict
were the case before a jury, then there is substantial
evidence.” Hunter, 993 F.2d at 34 (internal
quotation marks omitted).
reviewing for substantial evidence, the [C]ourt should not
undertake to re-weigh conflicting evidence, make credibility
determinations, or substitute its judgment for that of the
[ALJ, as adopted by the Commissioner].”
Mastro, 270 F.3d at 176 (internal brackets and
quotation marks omitted). “Where conflicting evidence
allows reasonable minds to differ as to whether a claimant is
disabled, the responsibility for that decision falls on the
[Commissioner] (or the ALJ).” Id. at 179
(internal quotation marks omitted). “The issue before
[the Court], therefore, is not whether [the claimant] is
disabled, but whether the ALJ's finding that [the