United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
BILLY E. PARKER, JR., 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
Billy E. Parker, Jr., 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 7 (cited herein as “Tr. ”)),
and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 9,
11; see also Docket Entry 10 (Plaintiff's
Memorandum); Docket Entry 12 (Defendant's Memorandum)).
For the reasons that follow, the Court should remand this
matter for further administrative proceedings.
applied for DIB and SSI, alleging an onset date of May 8,
2013. (Tr. 245-57.) Upon denial of those applications
initially (Tr. 81-118, 159-64) and on reconsideration (Tr.
119-58, 167-75), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 178-79).
Plaintiff (proceeding pro se), his girlfriend, and a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified at the
hearing. (Tr. 37-74.) The ALJ subsequently ruled that
Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr.
8-21.) The Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's
request for review (Tr. 1-7, 242-44, 434-36), 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] meets the insured status requirements of the
 Act through March 31, 2016.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 8, 2013, the alleged onset date.
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease, status-post
bypass repair surgery, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea,
diabetes mellitus, ischemic optic neuropathy, glaucoma,
hyperthyroidism, depression, and attention deficit
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] may lift and carry 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; he may push and
pull as much as he can lift and carry; [he] may sit for 6
hours, stand for 6 hours, and walk for 6 hours in an 8-hour
day; he may perform no acts of far acuity or depth perception
on his right side; [he] may have occasional exposure to fumes
and pulmonary irritants; and he retains the capacity to
perform simple, routine and repetitive tasks.
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 No. in the national economy that
[Plaintiff] can perform.
11. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined
in the  Act, from May 8, 2013, through the date of this
(Tr. 13-20 (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).
Even given those limitations, the Court should remand this
case for further administrative proceedings.
Standard of Review
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 ...