United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
C. Mullen United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court upon Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 10) and
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 12).
Having carefully considered the motions and reviewed the
record, the court enters the following findings, conclusions,
Edie Broome Carroll (“Carroll” or
“Plaintiff”) filed her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income Benefits (“SSI”) on September 12,
2012, alleging a disability onset date of June 1, 2005. After
Plaintiff's claim was denied both initially and on
reconsideration, she requested and was granted a hearing.
Before the hearing, Plaintiff amended her alleged onset date
to October 11, 2010. Administrative Law Judge Clinton C.
Hicks (“the ALJ”) held a hearing on May 17, 2015.
On May 25, 2015, the ALJ issued a partially favorable
decision, finding her disabled beginning on August 12, 2013.
Accordingly, the ALJ found that she was entitled to SSI from
that date, but he denied her application for DIB because she
was not disabled through December 31, 2011, the date last
Appeals Council subsequently 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 ALJ's
decision, the ALJ at the first step determined that Plaintiff
did not engage in substantial gainful activity since her
alleged onset date. (Tr. 23). At the second step, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff has the following severe
impairments: spinal stenosis, depression, bipolar disorder,
and dyssomnia. (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. 25).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then found that
Plaintiff has the following residual functional capacity
to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a)
and 416.967(a). She has the ability to sit for 45 minutes at
a time and stand for two hours at a time, alternating between
sitting and standing throughout the workday. She can
frequently handle or finger bilaterally. She requires the use
of a cane to ambulate but the cane is not needed in the
performance of her work duties. She is limited to simple,
routine repetitive tasks and can occasionally interact with
26). Based on these limitations, the ALJ found in the fourth
step that Plaintiff has not been capable of performing her
past relevant work since the alleged onset date. (Tr. 32).
Finally, at the fifth step, the ALJ concluded that prior to
August 12, 2013, when Plaintiff's age category changed to
“an individual closely approaching advanced age”
there were other jobs that existed in significant numbers in
the national economy that Plaintiff could have performed.
the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Act
prior to August 12, 2013, but that Plaintiff has been
disabled under the Act since August 12, 2013. (Tr. 34).
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