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McDougald v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

May 24, 2018

TIMOTHY MCDOUGALD, 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, Timothy McDougald, 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”). (Docket Entry 1.) Defendant has filed the certified administrative record (Docket Entry 6 (cited herein as “Tr. __”)), and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 9, 12; see also Docket Entry 11 (Plaintiff's Memorandum); Docket Entry 13 (Defendant's Memorandum)). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff applied for DIB, alleging an onset date of January 16, 2012. (Tr. 160-66.) Upon denial of that application initially (Tr. 73-83, 96-99) and on reconsideration (Tr. 84-95, 103-10), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 111). Plaintiff, his non-attorney representative, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 33-72.) The ALJ subsequently ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr. 13-27.) The Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-5, 6-12, 299-300), thereby 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] last met the insured status requirements of the [] Act on September 30, 2014.
2. [Plaintiff] did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from his alleged onset date of January 16, 2012 through his date last insured of September 30, 2014.
3. Through the date last insured, [Plaintiff] had the following severe impairments: morbid obesity; status-post left lower extremity fracture with residuals; reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)/complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS); gout/arthrolithiasis; plantar fasciitis; lumbago; hypertension.
4. Through the date last insured, [Plaintiff] did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. . . . [T]hrough the date last insured, [Plaintiff] had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work . . ., with the following provisos: [Plaintiff] is able to frequently push, pull, operate hand controls, handle, finger, and/or feel bilaterally. He can frequently use his lower extremities for pushing, pulling, and/or operating foot controls. [Plaintiff] can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, and/or crouch. He cannot climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds, or crawl. [Plaintiff] must avoid concentrated exposure to workplace hazards, such as dangerous moving machinery and unprotected heights. He requires the use of an assistive device, such as a cane, for ambulation only.
6. Through the date last insured, [Plaintiff] was unable to perform any past relevant work.
10. Through the date last insured, considering [Plaintiff's] age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant No. in the national economy that [Plaintiff] could have performed.
11. [Plaintiff] was not under a disability, as defined in the [] Act, at any time from January 16, 2012, the alleged onset date, through ...

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