United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
GEORGE M. METCALF, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
C. Keesler Judge
MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on Plaintiff's
“Motion For Judgment On The Pleadings Rule 12(c),
F.R.Civ.P.” (Document No. 10) and Defendant's
“Motion For Summary Judgment” (Document No. 12).
The parties have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B). After careful
consideration of the written arguments, the administrative
record, and applicable authority, the undersigned will direct
that Plaintiff's “Motion For Judgment On The
Pleadings Rule 12(c), F.R.Civ.P.” (Document No. 10) be
denied; that Defendant's “Motion For
Summary Judgment” (Document No. 12) be
granted; and that the Commissioner's decision be
George M. Metcalf (“Plaintiff”), through counsel,
seeks judicial review of an unfavorable administrative
decision on his application for disability benefits.
(Document No. 1). On or about October 4, 2013, Plaintiff
filed an application for supplemental security income under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1383,
alleging an inability to work due to a disabling condition
beginning June 1, 2010. (Transcript of the Record of
Proceedings (“Tr.”) 19, 158). The Commissioner of
Social Security (the “Commissioner” or
“Defendant”) denied Plaintiff's application
initially on or about April 22, 2014, and again after
reconsideration on October 14, 2014. (Tr. 19, 88, 100). In
its “Notice of Reconsideration, ” the Social
Security Administration (“SSA”) included the
following explanation of its decision:
The medical evidence shows that your condition is not severe
enough to be considered disabling.
In order to evaluate the claim, specific medical evidence was
needed. However, we were unable to obtain this evidence
because the examination we scheduled was not completed.
It has been decided, therefore, that you are not disabled
according to the Social Security Act.
filed a timely written request for a hearing on October 29,
2014. (Tr. 19, 110). On June 16, 2016, Administrative Law
Judge Jerry W. Peace (the “ALJ”) held a video
conference hearing from Greenville, SC. (Tr. 37). Plaintiff
appeared and testified at the hearing in Asheville, NC. (Tr.
19, 37-63). In addition, Janette Clifford, a vocational
expert (“VE”), and William L. Coleman,
Plaintiff's attorney, appeared at the hearing.
issued an unfavorable decision on September 28, 2016, denying
Plaintiff's claim. (Tr. 19-29). On November 18, 2016,
Plaintiff filed a request for review of the ALJ's
decision, which was denied by the Appeals Council on December
7, 2016. (Tr. 1, 7). The ALJ decision became the final
decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's review request. (Tr. 1).
“Complaint” seeking a reversal of the ALJ's
determination was filed in this Court on January 19, 2017.
(Document No. 1). The parties filed a “Joint
Stipulation Of Consent To Jurisdiction By U.S. Magistrate
Judge” on May 2, 2017, and this case was assigned to
the undersigned Magistrate Judge.
“Motion For Judgment On The Pleadings Rule 12(c),
F.R.Civ.P.” (Document No. 10) and Plaintiff's
“Memorandum Of Law In Support Of Plaintiff's Motion
For Judgment On The Pleadings Rule 12(c), F.R.Civ.P”
(Document No. 11) were filed June 1, 2017; and
Defendant's “Motion For Summary Judgment”
(Document No. 12) and “Memorandum In Support Of
Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment” (Document
No. 13) were filed August 8, 2017.Plaintiff declined to file a
reply brief, and the time to do so has lapsed. See
“Social Security Briefing Order, ” No.
3:13-MC-198-FDW, (Document No. 1) (W.D. N.C. Dec. 23, 2013)
and Local Rule 7.2 (e).
February 7, 2018, the undersigned scheduled this matter for a
hearing on March 8, 2018, and directed the parties to make a
good faith attempt to resolve or narrow the issues. (Document
No. 14). The parties filed a “Joint Notice”
(Document No. 16) on February 26, 2018, that their attempt to
narrow or resolve the issues failed. The pending motions are
now ripe for disposition.
further review of this case, the undersigned will cancel the
scheduled hearing and issue this decision.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and §
1383(c)(3), limits this Court's review of a final
decision of the Commissioner to: (1) whether substantial
evidence supports the Commissioner's decision; and (2)
whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards.
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971);
Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir.
Fourth Circuit has made clear that it is not for a reviewing
court to re-weigh the evidence or to substitute its judgment
for that of the Commissioner - so long as that decision is
supported by substantial evidence. Hays, 907 F.2d at
1456 (4th Cir. 1990); see also, Smith v.
Schweiker, 795 F.2d 343, 345 (4th Cir. 1986);
Hancock v. Astrue, 667 F.3d 470, 472 (4th Cir.
2012). “Substantial evidence has been defined as
‘more than a scintilla and [it] must do more than
create a suspicion of the existence of a fact to be
established. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable