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Honeycutt v. Berryhill

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

March 30, 2018

BRUCE H. HONEYCUTT, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Robert J. Conrad, Jr. United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 10); Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 11); Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 12); and Defendant's Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 13). The motions are ripe for adjudication.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Bruce H. Honeycutt (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of Nancy A. Berryhill's (“Defendant” or “Commissioner”) denial of his social security claim. Plaintiff filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits an on March 27, 2013, alleging an onset date of May 21, 2011. (Doc. Nos. 9 to 9-2: Administrative Record (“Tr.”) at 55, 138-141). His applications were denied first on July 10, 2013, and again on November 7, 2013 upon reconsideration. (Tr. 22, 69, 79). Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing on December 18, 2013, (Tr. 87), and an administrative hearing was held by an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) for the Social Security Administration on September 9, 2015. (Id. at 524-50).

         Following this hearing, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. 22-37). Plaintiff requested a review of the ALJ's decision on December 2, 2015, (Tr. 17-18), but on December 13, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a review. (Id. at 1-5). Plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies and this case is now before the Court for disposition of the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 10), and Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 11), were filed on July 14, 2017. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 12) and Memorandum in Support, (Doc. No. 13), were filed on September 12, 2017.

         B. Factual Background

         The question before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was disabled under sections 216(i), 223(d) of the Social Security Act (“SSA”). (Tr. 22). To establish entitlement to benefits, Plaintiff has the burden of proving that he was disabled within the meaning of the SSA.[1] Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n5 (1987). Plaintiff alleges that his disability began on May 21, 2011 due to Hepatitis C; depression; anxiety; diabetes, abdominal pain; neuropathy; suicidal ideations, hallucination, and hearing voices; severe joint and body pain; damage to the liver; and lack of sleep. (Tr. 153).

         After reviewing Plaintiff's record and conducting a hearing, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not suffer from a disability as defined in the SSA. (Tr. 33). In reaching his conclusion, the ALJ used the five-step sequential evaluation process established by the Social Security Administration for determining if a person is disabled. 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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