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Greasamar v. Berryhill

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

January 5, 2018

SCOTT E. GREASAMAR, 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, (Doc. No. 9), and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 10), and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 12), and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 13).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Scott E. Greasamar (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of Defendant Social Security Commissioner's (“Defendant” or “Commissioner”) denial of his social security claim. (Doc. No. 1). On July 13, 2014, Plaintiff filed his application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405 et seq. (Doc. Nos. 8 to 8-8: Administrative Record (“Tr.”) at 142). In his application, Plaintiff alleged an inability to work due to disabling conditions beginning on September 1, 2013. (Id.). Plaintiff's application was denied initially on August 19, 2014 and upon reconsideration on November 12, 2014. (Id. at 19). A video hearing was then held on March 23, 2016 before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Sherman D. Schwartzberg. (Id. at 33-54). In 2016, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's claims and the Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final determination of Defendant. (Id. at 1-5, 16-33).

         B. Factual Background

         The question before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was under a “disability” as that term of art is defined for Social Security purposes, at any time between September 1, 2013, and September 30, 2015, the date Plaintiff was last insured.[1] (Tr. at 19). To establish entitlement to benefits, Plaintiff has the burden of proving that he was disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987). The ALJ ultimately concluded that Plaintiff was not under a disability at any point in the relevant timeframe. (Tr. at 29).

         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 work-if yes, not disabled.

See 20 C.F.R. ยง 404.1520(a)(4)(i-v). In this case, the ALJ determined at the fifth step that Plaintiff was not ...


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