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Taylor v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

November 8, 2017

MARK ANTHONY TAYLOR, 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, Mark Anthony Taylor, 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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). (Docket Entry 1.) Defendant has filed the certified administrative record (Docket Entry 9 (cited herein as “Tr.___ ”)), and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 13, 15; see also Docket Entry 14 (Plaintiff's Memorandum); Docket Entry 16 (Defendant's Memorandum)). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff applied for SSI. (Tr. 222-33.) Upon denial of that application initially (Tr. 113-27, 147-50) and on reconsideration (Tr. 128-46, 160-69), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 170-72). Plaintiff, his attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 42-107.)[2] The ALJ subsequently ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr. 18-33.) The Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6, 15-17, 329-30), thereby 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] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 17, 2012, the application date.
. . .
2. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: back disorder; obesity; and bipolar disorder.
. . .
3. [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.
. . .
4. . . . [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform light work . . . except that he requires the option to alternate sitting and standing every ninety minutes. He can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; never climb ladders or scaffolds; and occasionally balance. He must not have any concentrated exposure to hazardous conditions, such as unprotected heights, dangerous moving machinery, or uneven surfaces. He retains the mental residual functional capacity to understand, recall, and carry out simple, routine tasks involving no more than simple, short instructions and simple, work-related decisions with few workplace changes. He can have frequent interaction with supervisors, and occasional interaction with coworkers and the general public.
. . .
5. [Plaintiff] is unable to perform any past ...

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