United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Howell, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions
for summary judgment (# 19, 20) and Plaintiff's Motion to
Remand (# 22). Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brought
this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain
judicial review of a final decision by the Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner”). The issues have
been fully briefed, and the matter is now ripe for ruling.
For the reasons addressed below, the Court recommends that
Plaintiff's motions be denied, and the Commissioner's
motion be granted.
child, Plaintiff received Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) benefits based on a disability.
(Transcript of Administrative Record (“T.” 26.)
The Social Security Act required Defendant to redetermine
Plaintiff's (continuing) eligibility for SSI when he
turned 18 years old. (T. 26.) On April 16, 2012, it was
determined that Plaintiff was no longer disabled as of April
1, 2012. (T. 26). Plaintiff appealed (T. 26), and the
decision was upheld on reconsideration after a hearing by a
State agency Disability Hearing Officer. (T. 26).
April 25, 2014, Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing. (T.
26, 72.) The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
held a hearing in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 14,
2016. (T. 26.) On May 27, 2016, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff's disability ended on April 1,
2012, he had not become disabled again since that date, and
all payments should stop immediately. (T. 33.)
requested review of the ALJ's May 27, 2016, decision. (T.
6.) On May 15, 2017, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. (T. 6-9, 94-97.) On July
24, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant action seeking review
of the Commissioner's final decision. See Compl.
Standard of Review
Court is authorized to review the Commissioner's final
decision that a person is not entitled to disability
benefits. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Hines v.
Barnhart, 453 F.3d 559, 561 (4th Cir. 2006) (citing
Mastro v. Apfel, 270 F.3d 171, 176 (4th Cir. 2001)).
The Court's role is limited to determining whether the
ALJ applied the correct legal standards and whether
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's factual findings.
Meyer v. Astrue, 662 F.3d 700, 704 (4th Cir. 2011).
evidence” is defined as “such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Johnson v. Barnhart, 434 F.3d
650, 653 (4th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (internal quotation and
citation omitted). It constitutes “more than a mere
scintilla of evidence but may be less than a
preponderance.” Smith v. Chater, 99 F.3d 635,
638 (4th Cir. 1996). “A factual finding by the ALJ is
not binding if it was reached by means of an improper
standard or misapplication of the law.” Coffman v.
Bowen, 829 F.2d 514, 517 (4th Cir. 1987).
person under age 18 is deemed “disabled” if he or
she has a “medically determinable physical or mental
impairment or combination of impairments that causes marked
and severe functional limitations, and that can be expected
to cause death or that lasted or can be expected to last for
a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 20
C.F.R. § 416.906. When that person turns 18, the
Commissioner must redetermine their eligibility under the
adult disability standard.42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(H)(iii); 20
C.F.R. § 416.987(a), (c).
follows a four-step process in age-18 redeterminations.
Lloyd v. Colvin, No. 4:14-CV-00040, 2015 WL 5690817,
at *2 (W.D. Va. Sept. 28, 2015). In particular, the ALJ asks,
in the following order, whether the young adult: (1) has a
severe impairment, (2) has an impairment that meets or equals
an impairment listed in the Social Security Act's
regulations, (3) is able to return to his or her past
relevant work, if any, and if not, (4) can perform other work
that exists in the economy. 20 C.F.R. § 416.987(b)
(citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(c), (h)).
The ALJ's Decision
May 27, 2016, decision, the ALJ ultimately concluded that
Plaintiff's disability ended on April 1, 2012, and
Plaintiff had not become disabled again since that date. (T.
33.) In reaching her ultimate conclusion, the ALJ made the
following specific findings:
(1) The claimant attained age 18 on June 12, 2011, and he was
eligible for SSI benefits as a child for the month preceding
the month in which he attained age 18. The claimant was
notified that he was found no longer disabled as of April 1,
2012, based on a redetermination of disability under the
rules for adults who file new applications.
(2) Since April 1, 2012, the claimant has had the following
severe impairment: mild cerebral palsy (20 C.F.R. §
(3) Since April 1, 2012, the claimant did not have any
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20
C.F.R. §§ 416.920(d), 416.925, and 416.926)
(4) Since April 1, 2012, the claimant has had the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 C.F.R. § 416.967(a), except that he can stand/walk
for two hours in an eight-hour workday and sit six hours in
an eight-hour workday. The claimant can perform frequent but
not constant pushing and pulling with his bilateral lower
extremities. He can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds
and can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, occasionally
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant can
work with occasional exposure to extreme heat and cold,
pulmonary irritants, workplace hazards, such as unprotected
heights and dangerous machinery.
(5) The claimant has no past relevant work (20 C.F.R. §
(6) The claimant was born on June 13, 1993, and he is a
younger individual age 18-44 (20 C.F.R. § 416.963).
(7) The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 C.F.R. § 416.964).
(8) Transferability of jobs skills is not an issue because
the claimant does not have past relevant work (20 C.F.R.
(9) Since April 1, 2012, considering the claimant's age,
education, work experience, and residual functional capacity,
there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy that the claimant can perform (20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.969, 416.969(a)).
(10) The claimant's disability ended on April 1, 2012,
and he has not become disabled again since that date (20
C.F.R. §§ 416.987(e), 416.920(g)).
The ALJ properly recognized and accounted for ...