United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
C. MULLEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court upon Plaintiff's
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. No. 7) and
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 9).
Having carefully considered such motions and reviewed the
pleadings, the court enters the following findings,
conclusions, and Order.
Sergio Jamie Carrera (“Carrera” or
“Plaintiff”) initially filed his application for
Disability Insurance Benefits on July 12, 2013, alleging a
disability onset date of September 15, 2012. After
Plaintiff's claim was denied both initially and on
reconsideration, he requested and was granted a hearing
before Administrative Law Judge Campbell (“the
ALJ”). After reviewing the record and conducting a
video hearing, the ALJ issued a decision on May 23, 2016,
that was unfavorable to Plaintiff, from which Plaintiff
appealed to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council denied
review on September 25, 2016, making the ALJ's decision
the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
Plaintiff timely filed this action, seeking judicial review
of the ALJ's decision and the denial of review by the
decision, the ALJ at the first step determined that Plaintiff
has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his
alleged onset date (Tr. 26). At the second step, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff has the following combination of
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease status post
spinal fusion, obstructive sleep apnea, and chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). (Id.). At the
third step, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meet or
medically equal the severity of one the listed impairments in
20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 27).
then found that Plaintiff has the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform medium work with the following
[He] can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds or be
exposed to unprotected heights. He can frequently climb ramps
or stairs. He can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, or
crawl. He must avoid concentrated exposure to dust, fumes,
and pulmonary irritants. He requires a sit-stand option
allowing him to shift position on an hourly basis.
27-28). Based on these limitations, the ALJ found in the
fourth step that Plaintiff is capable of perform his past
relevant work as a lieutenant. (Tr. 31). And, alternatively,
at the fifth step the ALJ concluded that there are also other
jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that Plaintiff can perform, including Assembler and
Hand packager. (Tr. 32-33).
the ALJ found that Plaintiff is not disabled under the Act.
Standard of Review
only issues on review are whether the Commissioner applied
the correct legal standards and whether the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390
(1971); Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th
Cir. 1990). Review by a federal court is not de novo,
Smith v. Schwieker, 795 F.2d 343, 345 (4th Cir.
1986); rather, inquiry is limited to whether there was
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion, ”
Richardson, 402 U.S. at 400. Even if the undersigned
were to find that a preponderance of the evidence ...