United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
MEMORANDUM & RECOMMENDATION
T. NUMBERS, II UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Arleen Bradley instituted this action to challenge the denial
of her application for social security income. Bradley claims
that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Mattie
Harvin-Woode erred in failing to incorporate fully her
non-exertional limitations into the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) determination. Both Bradley and
Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, the Acting Commissioner of
Social Security, have filed motions seeking a judgment on the
pleadings in their favor. D.E. 21, 24.
reviewing the parties' arguments, the court has
determined that ALJ Harvin-Woode reached the appropriate
decision. Substantial evidence supports the RFC determination
which sufficiently reflects Bradley's non-exertional
limitations. The undersigned magistrate thus judge recommends
that the court deny Bradley's motion, grant
Berryhill's motion, and affirm the Commissioner's
August 2014, Bradley filed applications for disability
benefits and supplemental security income. In both
applications, Bradley alleged a disability that began in
August 2013. After her claims were denied at the initial
level and upon reconsideration, Bradley appeared before ALJ
Harvin-Woode for a hearing to determine whether she was
entitled to benefits. ALJ Harvin-Woode determined Bradley was
not entitled to benefits because she was not disabled. Tr. at
Harvin-Woode found that Bradley had several severe
impairments: coronary artery disease, status post double
bypass surgery, peripheral vascular disease, obesity, chronic
cervical strain, chronic thoracolumbar strain, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”), tobacco
use disorder, bipolar disorder, polysubstance abuse disorder
in remission, generalized anxiety disorder, and personality
disorder. Tr. at 1044. ALJ Harvin-Woode found that
Bradley's impairments, either alone or in combination,
did not meet or equal a Listing impairment. Tr. at 1045.
Harvin-Woode then determined that Bradley had the RFC to
perform a range of sedentary work with additional
limitations. Tr. at 1047. Bradley requires the option to
stand every 45 minutes for one to two minutes, but can
continue working while standing. Id. She must avoid
moderate exposure to hazards such as heights and moving
machinery, as well as exposure to fumes, odors, gases, dusts,
etc. Id. Bradley can perform simple, routine,
repetitive tasks. Id. Finally, she can tolerate
occasional interactions with coworkers and occasional but
superficial interactions with the general public.
Harvin-Woode concluded that Bradley could not perform her
past relevant work as a commercial cleaning manager,
assistant maintenance supervisor, assistant manager, fast
food cook, or sales attendant. Tr. at 1051. But ALJ
Harvin-Woode determined that, considering her age, education,
work experience, and RFC, other jobs existed in significant
numbers in the national economy that Bradley could perform.
Id. These include charge account clerk, addresser,
and ticket checker. Id. Thus, ALJ Harvin-Woode found
that Bradley was not disabled. Tr. at 1053.
unsuccessfully seeking review by the Appeals Council, Bradley
commenced this action in February 2017. D.E. 5.
Standard for Review of the Acting Commissioner's Final
social security claimant appeals a final decision of the
Commissioner, the district court's review is limited to
determining whether, based on the entire administrative
record, there is substantial evidence to support the
Commissioner's findings. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).
Substantial evidence is defined as “evidence which a
reasoning mind would accept as sufficient to support a
particular conclusion.” Shively v. Heckler,
739 F.2d 987, 989 (4th Cir. 1984) (quoting Laws v.
Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir. 1966)). The
court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is
supported by substantial evidence. Smith v. Chater,
99 F.3d 635, 638 (4th Cir. 1996).
Standard for Evaluating Disability
making a disability determination, the ALJ engages in a
five-step evaluation process. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520;
see Johnson v. Barnhart, 434 F.3d 650 (4th Cir.
2005). The ALJ must consider the factors in order. At step
one, if the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity, the claim is denied. At step two, the claim is
denied if the claimant does not have a severe impairment or
combination of impairments significantly limiting him or her
from performing basic work activities. At step three, the
claimant's impairment is compared to those in the Listing
of Impairments. See 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
App. 1. If the impairment is listed in the Listing of
Impairments or if it is equivalent to a listed impairment,
disability is conclusively presumed. But if the
claimant's impairment does not meet or equal a listed
impairment, the ALJ assesses the claimant's RFC to
determine, at step four, whether he can perform his past work
despite his impairments. If the claimant cannot perform past
relevant work, the analysis moves on to step five:
establishing whether ...