United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
Cogburn, Jr., Judge
MATTER is before the court on plaintiff's (#10)
and defendant's (#12) cross Motions for Summary Judgment.
The matter is ripe for review. Having carefully considered
each motion and reviewed the pleadings, the court enters the
following findings and Order.
applied for a period of disability and disability insurance
benefits under title II of the Act in May 2015, alleging
disability beginning June 17, 2013. (Tr. 10). Plaintiff's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Id. At plaintiff's request, Administrative Law
Judge Mary Ryerse (“the ALJ”) held a hearing on
his claim on April 7, 2017. (Tr. 34-70). On May 23, 2017, the
ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled from his alleged
onset date through the date he was last insured for benefits.
(Tr. 10-22). Plaintiff sought review by the Appeals Council,
but the Appeals Council denied his request in September 2017,
rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Tr. 1). Having thus exhausted his
administrative remedies, plaintiff commenced this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of
court adopts and incorporates the ALJ's factual findings
herein as if fully set forth. Such findings are referenced in
the substantive discussion which follows.
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. Schwieker, 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 v. Perales, supra.
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 v. Sullivan,
supra. The Fourth Circuit has explained substantial
evidence review as follows:
the district court reviews the record to ensure that the
ALJ's factual findings are supported by substantial
evidence and that its legal findings are free of error. If
the reviewing court decides that the ALJ's decision is
not supported by substantial evidence, it may affirm, modify,
or reverse the ALJ's ruling with or without remanding the
cause for a rehearing. A necessary predicate to engaging in
substantial evidence review is a record of the basis for the
ALJ's ruling. The record should include a discussion of
which evidence the ALJ found credible and why, and specific
application of the pertinent legal requirements to the record
evidence. If the reviewing court has no way of evaluating the
basis for the ALJ's decision, then the proper course,
except in rare circumstances, is to remand to the agency for
additional investigation or explanation.
Radford v. Colvin, 734 F.3d 288, 295 (4th Cir. 2013)
(internal citations and quotations omitted).