United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
DIRIEK J. NANCE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
J. CONRAD, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Deriek J.
Nance's (“Plaintiff's”) Motion for
Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 11), and Memorandum in Support,
(Doc. No. 12), and Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment, (Doc. No. 13), and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No.
seeks judicial review of Defendant's denial of his social
security claim. (Doc. No. 1). On April 2, 2013, Plaintiff
filed his application for a period of disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405 et seq. (Doc.
Nos. 10 to 10-8: Administrative Record (“Tr.”) at
163). In his application, Plaintiff alleged an onset date of
August 20, 2008. (Tr. 170). Plaintiff's application was
denied initially and upon consideration. (Tr. 11).
April 16, 2015, a hearing was held in front of Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) Theresa Jenkins. (Tr. 31-58).
On May 13, 2015, ALJ Jenkins issued a decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 11-25). The Appeals Council
denied review of the ALJ's decision on October 28, 2016,
making the ALJ's opinion the final decision of Defendant.
(Tr. 1-6). Plaintiff now appeals the ALJ's decision,
requesting this Court to issue a remand pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
question before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was under a
“disability” as that term of art is defined for
Social Security purposes, on August 20, 2008, Plaintiff's
alleged onset date, through March 31, 2009, the date
Plaintiff was last insured. (Tr. 11). 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. 25).
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,
(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
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. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i-v). In this
case, the ALJ determined at the fifth step that Plaintiff was
not disabled. (Tr. at 23-24).
begin with, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had not engaged
in any substantial gainful activity since August 20, 2008,
his alleged onset date through the date Plaintiff was last
insured, March 31, 2009. (Tr. 13). At the second step, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: “multiple sclerosis, adjustment disorder,
depression, bipolar disorder, peripheral neuropathy, right
shoulder impingement syndrome, and polysubstance
abuse.” (Id.). At the third step, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff did not have an “impairment
or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals
the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R.
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.” (Tr. 14).
the ALJ assessed Plaintiff's RFC and found that he
retained the capacity to perform:
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except that he
could sit up to 6 hours and stand or walk up to 4 hours. He
must have been allowed to alternate between sitting and
standing up to two times each hour. He should have avoided
ladders, ropes, scaffolds, unprotected heights, and around
machinery with dangerous parts. He could only occasionally
perform other postural activities. He could frequently but
not continuously use his upper and lower extremities for
pushing, pulling, and operating hand controls. He could
frequently but not continuously use his right, dominant upper
extremity for reaching overhead. He could follow short,
simple instructions and perform routine tasks. He could not
do work requiring a production rate or demand pace. He could
maintain frequent but not ...