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Kenedy v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

May 9, 2018

TAMMY S. KENEDY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          L. Patrick Auld United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff, Tammy S. Kenedy, brought this action pursuant to the Social Security Act (the “Act”) to obtain judicial review of a final decision of Defendant, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). (Docket Entry 2.) Defendant has filed the certified administrative record (Docket Entry 9 (cited herein as “Tr.__”)), and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 12, 16; see also Docket Entry 13 (Plaintiff's Brief), Docket Entry 17 (Defendant's Memorandum)). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, alleging an onset date of August 3, 2011. (Tr. 226-39.)[1] Upon denial of those applications initially (Tr. 133-54, 181-85) and on reconsideration (Tr. 155-80, 190-205), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 206-07). Plaintiff, her attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 60-112.) The ALJ subsequently ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr. 10-34.) The Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6, 7-9, 305-06), making the ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review.

         In rendering that disability determination, the ALJ made the following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:

1. [Plaintiff] meets the insured status requirements of the . . . Act through December 31, 2016.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 3, 2011, the alleged onset date.
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: asthma, curvature of the spine; obesity; gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); and anemia.
4. [Plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. . . . [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work . . . . She can lift, carry, push, and pull 10 pounds occasionally; stand and walk two hours in an eight-hour workday; sit six hours in an eight-hour workday; occasionally climb ramps and stairs; never climb ladders and scaffolds; frequently balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can have no concentrated exposure to unprotected heights, moving mechanical parts, humidity and wetness, extreme cold or extreme heat, and dust, odors, fumes, and pulmonary irritants.
6. [Plaintiff] is unable to perform any past relevant work.
10. Considering [Plaintiff's] age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that [she] can perform.
11. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined in the . . . Act, from August 3, 2011, through the date of this decision.

(Tr. 15-33 (bold font and internal parenthetical citations omitted).)

         II. DISCUSSION

         Federal law “authorizes judicial review of the Social Security Commissioner's denial of social security benefits.” Hines v. Barnhart, 453 F.3d 559, 561 (4th Cir. 2006). However, “the scope of [the Court's] review of [such a] decision . . . is extremely limited.” Frady v. Harris, 646 F.2d 143, 144 (4th Cir. 1981). ...


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