United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
MELINDA H. GRIFFIS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
C. Mullen, United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court upon Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 10) and
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 12).
Having carefully considered such motions and reviewed the
pleadings, the court enters the following findings,
conclusions, and Order.
filed an application for a period of disability, Disability
Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income,
alleging a disability onset date of January 2, 2013.
Plaintiff's claim was denied both initially and on
reconsideration. Thereafter, Plaintiff requested and was
granted a hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). After a hearing, the ALJ issued a
decision which was unfavorable to Plaintiff. The Appeals
Council denied review, making the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
Plaintiff timely filed this action, seeking judicial review
of the ALJ's decision.
decision, the ALJ first determined that Plaintiff has not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged
onset date (Tr. 40). At the second step, the ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments:
depression, anxiety, lumbago, cervical degenerative disease,
bronchitis, and carpel tunnel syndrome. (Tr. 40-43). At the
third step, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meet or
medically equal the severity of one of the listed impairments
in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 43-44).
However, in reaching this determination the ALJ did find that
Plaintiff has moderate limitations with regard to
concentration, persistence, or pace. (Tr. 44).
then found that Plaintiff has residual functional capacity
(RFC) to perform medium work with the following limitations:
except [Plaintiff] can lift 50 pounds occasionally and 25
pounds frequently; she can sit, stand, or walk for 6 hours in
an 8-hour workday, respectively; she can frequently stoop,
crawl, and climb ramps/stairs; she can frequently perform
fine manipulation with her right upper extremity; she must
avoid concentrated exposure to dust, fumes, gases, and
respiratory irritants; she can maintain the necessary focus
needed to perform simple, unskilled work for 2-hour periods
at a time; and she can only have occasional interaction with
the general public.
(Tr. 45). As a result, the ALJ found in the fourth step that
Plaintiff is unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr.
48). However, at the fifth step, the ALJ concluded that there
are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that Plaintiff can perform, including dietary aid
food service worker, dining room attendant, and
sweeper/cleaner. (Tr. 49). Accordingly, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff is not disabled under the Act.
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, 402 U.S. at 400. Even if 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, 907 F.2d at