United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
FRANKLIN A. OLIVER, 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. 7) and
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 8).
Having carefully considered such motions and reviewed the
pleadings, the court enters the following findings,
conclusions, and Order.
Franklin A. Oliver (“Oliver” or
“Plaintiff”) filed his application for Disability
Insurance Benefits on February 4, 2014, alleging a disability
onset date of November 26, 2013. After Plaintiff's claim
was denied both initially and on reconsideration, he
requested and was granted a hearing before Administrative Law
Judge Sherman D. Schwartzberg (“the ALJ”). The
ALJ issued a decision on October 20, 2015, that Plaintiff was
not disabled, from which Plaintiff appealed to the Appeals
Council. On September 30, 2016, Plaintiff's request for
review was denied, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
Plaintiff timely filed this action, seeking judicial review
of the ALJ's decision.
decision, the ALJ at the first step determined that Plaintiff
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his
alleged onset date. (Tr. 23). At the second step, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff has the following severe impairment:
status post left L4-L5 micro-lumbar discectomy; chronic back
pain syndrome; type II diabetes mellitus; and obesity.
(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. 24).
then found that Plaintiff has the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform sedentary work, “which
includes standing and walking four hours in an eight-hour
workday; sitting six hours in an eight-hour workday;
occasional postural limitations; no climbing ladders, ropes,
or scaffolds; avoid concentrated exposure to hazards and
vibrations; and the claimant can perform simple, unskilled
work.” (Id.). Based on these limitations, the
ALJ found in the fourth step that Plaintiff is not capable of
performing his past relevant work as a truck driver. (Tr.
29). But, at the fifth step, the ALJ concluded that there are
other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that Plaintiff can perform. (Tr. 30). Accordingly,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Act.
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
first assignment of error is that the ALJ failed to
adequately translate Dr. Plaut's findings into
appropriate limitations in Plaintiff's RFC.
“is an assessment of an individual's ability to do
sustained work-related physical and mental activities in a
work setting on a regular and continuing basis.” S.S.R.
96-8p. The ALJ is solely responsible for determining the RFC
of a claimant. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1546(c). In determining
RFC, the ALJ must consider the functional limitations ...