United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
EDWARD C. POST, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
C. Mullen United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court upon Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 13) and
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 17).
Having carefully considered the motions and reviewed the
record, the court enters the following findings, conclusions,
Edward C. Post (“Post” or
“Plaintiff”) filed his application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) on April 26,
2011, alleging a disability since October 1, 1997. The onset
date was subsequently amended to April 26, 2011. After
Plaintiff's claim was denied, he requested and was
granted a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Richard H.
Harper (“Judge Harper”). Judge Harper issued a
decision denying the claim on January 17, 2013. On April 22,
2014, the Appeals Council remanded the case for further
remand, a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge
Susan Poulos (“the ALJ”) on April 8, 2015. On
June 24, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying the claim.
On November 7, 2016, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”). Thereafter, Plaintiff
timely filed this action, seeking judicial review of the
decision, the ALJ at the first step determined that Plaintiff
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his
alleged onset date. (Tr. 41). At the second step, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff has the following severe
impairments: status post mechanical accident in 2002
resulting in amputation of three fingers on the left hand and
part of the left thumb, and mental impairment variously
diagnosed as bipolar disorder, mood disorder NOS,
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and personality
disorder NOS. (Id.). At the third step, the ALJ
found that the Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meet or medically equal the
severity of one the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. §
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 42).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then found that
Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels with the following nonexertional
no handling and fingering with the left hand; simple,
routine, repetitive tasks; one to two step instructions;
simple decision making; few if any changes; occasional
interaction with the general public and coworkers; and the
left upper extremity used only to assist in lifting.
(Tr. 43). The ALJ found in the fourth step that Plaintiff
does not have any past relevant work. (Tr. 49). Finally, at
the fifth step, the ALJ concluded based on Plaintiff's
limitations that there are other jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff
could perform. (Id.). Accordingly, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the
Act. (Tr. 50).
Standard of Review
only issues on review are whether the Commissioner applied
the correct legal standards and whether the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390
(1971); Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th
Cir. 1990). Review by a federal court is not de novo,
Smith v. Schweiker, 795 F.2d 343, 345 (4th Cir.
1986); rather, inquiry is limited to whether there was
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion, ”
Richardson, 402 U.S. at 400. Even if the undersigned
were to find that a preponderance of the evidence weighed
against the Commissioner's decision, the
Commissioner's decision would have to be affirmed if
supported by substantial evidence. Hays, 907 F.2d at