United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
KATHLEEN M. THORP, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
J. Conrad, Jr.United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 13); Plaintiff's
Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 14); Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 15); and Defendant's
Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 16). The motions are ripe
M. Thorp (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of
Nancy A. Berryhill's (“Defendant” or
“Commissioner”) denial of her social security
claim. Plaintiff filed an application under Title II for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits on
December 17, 2011, alleging an onset date of May 21, 2011.
(Doc. Nos. 10 to 10-9: Administrative Record
(“Tr.”) at 101). Her applications were denied
first on July 9, 2012, and again on October 10, 2012 upon
reconsideration. (Id. at 116-19, 125-128). Plaintiff
filed a timely request for a hearing on October 17, 2017
(Id. at 129), and an administrative hearing was held
by an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) for the
Social Security Administration on March 31, 2014.
(Id. at 33-90).
this hearing, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff was not
disabled because she was capable of performing past relevant
work as an administrative assistant. (Id. 28). The
Plaintiff requested a review of the ALJ's decision on
August 26, 2014, but on June 27, 2014, the Appeals Council
issued an unfavorable decision. (Id. at 1-8, 9). The
findings of the Appeals Council affirmed the conclusion of
the ALJ that Plaintiff was not disabled under the SSA, albeit
for different reasons. (Id. at 1-8).
exhausted her administrative remedies and this case is now
before the Court for disposition of the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff's Motion
for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 13), and Plaintiff's
Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 14), were filed on July 12,
2016. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No.
15) and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 16), were filed on
September 12, 2016.
question before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was disabled
under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act
(“SSA”). (Tr. 13). To establish entitlement to
benefits, Plaintiff has the burden of proving that she was
disabled within the meaning of the SSA. Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n5 (1987). Plaintiff alleges
that her disability began on December 17, 2011 due to back
injury; foraminal stenosis 14-15, 15-S1; coccygectomy;
degenerative disc disease; spinal fusion L4-S1; and foraminal
stenosis L4-L5, L5-S1. (Tr. 101).
reviewing Plaintiff's record and conducting a hearing,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not suffer from a disability
as defined in the SSA. (Id. at 28). In reaching his
conclusion, the ALJ used the five-step sequential evaluation
process established by the Social Security Administration for
determining if a person is disabled. 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,
(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
(4) whether claimant has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform his or her past relevant