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Self v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

February 21, 2019

STACY SELF, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          L. Patrick Au1d L. United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff, Stacy Self, 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 9 (cited herein as “Tr. ”)), and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 14, 16; see also Docket Entry 15 (Plaintiff's Memorandum); Docket Entry 17 (Defendant's Memorandum)). For the reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for Defendant.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff applied for DIB, alleging a disability onset date of February 14, 2015. (Tr. 171-72.) Upon denial of that application initially (Tr. 79-93, 106-09) and on reconsideration (Tr. 94-105, 113-18), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 119-20). Plaintiff, her attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 33-78.) The ALJ subsequently determined that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr. 7-23.) The Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6, 169-70, 258-61), thereby making the ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of judicial review.

         In rendering that decision, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. [Plaintiff] meets the insured status requirements of the . . . Act through March 31, 2018.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 14, 2015, the alleged onset date.
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: functional dystonia, somatic disorder, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and obesity.
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, Appendix 1.
5. . . . [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work . . . except she can push/pull as much as she can carry. [Plaintiff] is limited to simple, routine tasks defined as jobs that can be learned in one month or less by an on-the-job demonstration. She can work in a low-stress setting defined as no quota work or production-rate work. She can perform simple, work-related decisions, defined as decisions involving only a few variables. She can have no more than occasional interaction with coworkers and the public. She can have few changes in a routine work setting, defined as only a few deviations from core job duties.
6. [Plaintiff] is capable of performing past relevant work as housekeeping in a hospital. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by [Plaintiff's] residual functional capacity.
In the alternative, 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] also can perform.
7. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined in the . . . Act, from February 14, 2015, through the date of this decision.

(Tr. 12-22 (internal parenthetical citations omitted).)

         II. DISCUSSION

         Federal 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 . . . review of [such a] decision . . . is extremely limited.” Frady v. Harris,646 F.2d 143, 144 (4th Cir. 1981). ...


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