United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
PATRICK AULD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Burhan Subhi Farid Al Shaikh, 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
claims for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). (Docket
Entry 1.) Defendant has filed the certified administrative
record (Docket Entry 9 (cited herein as “Tr. ”)),
and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 12,
14; see also Docket Entry 13 (Plaintiff's
Memorandum); Docket Entry 15 (Defendant's Memorandum)).
For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment
applied for DIB and SSI, alleging an onset date of January 1,
2013. (Tr. 61, 208-24.) Upon denial of those applications
initially (Tr. 60-79, 108-19) and on reconsideration (Tr.
80-105, 123-40), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 141-42).
Plaintiff, his attorney, and a vocational expert
(“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 33-59.) The ALJ
subsequently ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled
under the Act. (Tr. 15-26.) The Appeals Council thereafter
denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6, 199,
321-27), thereby making the ALJ's ruling the
Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial
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 September 30, 2018.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 1, 2013, the alleged onset date.
. . .
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine and status
post left mastectomy.
. . .
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,
. . .
5. . . . [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work . . . except he can occasionally climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; frequently balance; frequently
crawl; and frequently reach overhead and in front with the
left upper extremity. He must avoid concentrated exposure to
. . .
6. [Plaintiff] is capable of performing past relevant work as
a transportation inspector and transportation manager. This
work does not require the performance of work-related
activities precluded by [Plaintiff's] residual functional
. . .
7. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined in
the  Act, from January 1, 2013, through the date of this
(Tr. 20-26 (bold font and internal parenthetical citations
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).
Plaintiff has not established entitlement to relief under the
extremely limited review standard.
Standard of Review
“[C]ourts are not to try [a Social Security] case de
novo.” Oppenheim v. Finch, 495 F.2d 396, 397
(4th Cir. 1974). Instead, the Court “must uphold the
factual findings of the ALJ if they are supported by
substantial evidence and were reached through application of
the correct legal standard.” Hines, 453 F.3d
at 561 (internal brackets and quotation marks omitted).
“Substantial evidence means ‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Hunter v.
Sullivan, 993 F.2d 31, 34 (4th Cir. 1992) (quoting
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)).
“It consists of more than a mere scintilla of evidence
but may be somewhat less than a preponderance.”
Mastro v. Apfel, 270 F.3d 171, 176 (4th Cir. 2001)
(brackets and internal quotation marks omitted). “If
there is evidence to justify a refusal to direct a verdict
were the case before a jury, then there is substantial
evidence.” Hunter, 993 F.2d at 34 (internal
quotation marks omitted).
reviewing for substantial evidence, the [C]ourt should not
undertake to re-weigh conflicting evidence, make credibility
determinations, or substitute its judgment for that of the
[ALJ, as adopted by the Commissioner].”
Mastro, 270 F.3d at 176 (internal brackets and
quotation marks omitted). “Where conflicting evidence
allows reasonable minds to differ as to whether a claimant is
disabled, the responsibility for that decision falls on the
[Commissioner] (or the ALJ).” Id. at 179
(internal quotation marks omitted). “The issue before
[the Court], therefore, is not whether [the claimant] is
disabled, but whether the ALJ's finding that [the