United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MICHAEL J. THOMAS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Patrick Auld, United States Magistrate Judge
Michael J. Thomas, 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 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 11, 12; see also Docket Entry 11-1
(Plaintiff's Memorandum); Docket Entry 13
(Defendant's Memorandum)). For the reasons that follow,
the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.
applied for SSI. (Tr. 150-53.) Upon denial of that application
initially (Tr. 65-74, 87-89) and on reconsideration (Tr.
75-84, 93-97), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 98-100).
Plaintiff, his attorney, and a vocational expert
(“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 32-64.) The ALJ
subsequently ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled
under the Act. (Tr. 16-27.) The Appeals Council thereafter
denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-4, 14-15),
thereby making the ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's
final decision for purposes of judicial review.
rendering that disability determination, the ALJ made the
following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:
1. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since October 28, 2013, the application date.
. . .
2. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and bilateral elbow
. . .
3. [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,
. . .
4. . . . [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to
perform less than the full range of light work . . . .
[Plaintiff] can occasionally stoop and climb ramps and
stairs. He cannot climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds. He can
have no more than occasional exposure to fumes, dusts, gases,
poor ventilation, or extremes of heat, cold, and humidity. He
cannot drive an automobile for the completion of job tasks.
He can have occasional exposure to hazards. He can perform
frequent handling and fingering with occasional reaching
. . .
5. [Plaintiff] has no past relevant work. . . .
9. Considering [Plaintiff's] age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant No. in the national economy that
[Plaintiff] can perform.
. . .
10. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined
in the [Act], since October 28, 2013, the date the