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Wells v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

March 27, 2018

CARL WELLS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Robert J. Conrad, Jr. United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Carl Well's (“Plaintiff's”) Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 11); his Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 12); Nancy A. Berryhill's (“Defendant's” or “Commissioner's”) Consent Motion for Extension of Time, (Doc. No. 13); Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 14); Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 15); and Plaintiff's Response, (Doc. No. 16).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff seeks judicial review of Defendant's denial of his social security claim. (Doc. No. 1). On April 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed his application for a period of disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”) under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405 et seq. (Doc. Nos. 9 to 9-9: Administrative Record (“Tr.”) at 181-90). In his application, Plaintiff alleged an onset date of March 14, 2013. (Tr. 181). Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon consideration. (Tr. 10, 109-114, 117-124).

         On August 27, 2015, a hearing was held in front an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Tr. 25-58). On October 1, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 7-19). The Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's decision on December 9, 2016, making the ALJ's opinion the final decision of Defendant. (Tr. 1- 3). Plaintiff now appeals the ALJ's decision, requesting this Court to issue a remand pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g).

         B. Factual Background

         The question before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was under a “disability” as that term of art is defined for Social Security purposes from March 14, 2013, Plaintiff's alleged onset date, through October 1, 2015, the date of the ALJ's decision.[2](Tr. 10). 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. 19).

         The 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, not disabled;
(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 yes, disabled;
(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 ...

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