United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
C. Mullen, United States District Judge
MATTER COMES before this Court on Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 12) and
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 15).
Having carefully considered the motions and reviewed the
record, the Court enters the following findings, conclusions,
procedural history of this matter is as stated in the
Commissioner's memorandum of law supporting the
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment.
ALJ's findings relevant to this proceeding are as
follows: Plaintiff meets the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act through June 30, 2011. (Tr. 13).
Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since her alleged onset date. (Id.). Plaintiff has a
combination of impairments that more than minimally affect
her ability to perform work related activities and are thus
considered to be “severe.” (Id.).
However, 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 C.F.R. § 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 14).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform unskilled light work with the
she is precluded from climbing ropes, ladders and scaffolds
and limited to occasional ramp and stair climbing, kneeling,
crouching and crawling. She must be allowed to alternate
between sitting and standing with the ability to change
positions twice per hour. The claimant should avoid
concentrated exposure to vibrations and work place hazards
such as heights and dangerous machinery. In addition, the
claimant is limited to simple, routine and repetitive tasks
in a non-production environment, unskilled work, and should
avoid concentrated exposure to extreme heat and cold; with no
contact with the general public and no proximity to
co-workers (cannot perform as member of a team).
(Tr. 15). The ALJ found in the fourth step that Plaintiff is
unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. 24). Finally,
at the fifth step, the ALJ concluded based on Plaintiff's
limitations that there are other jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 25). Accordingly, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of 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. Schweiker, 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
appeal, Plaintiff asserts the ALJ made three errors in his
decision: (1) the ALJ erred by misstating Plaintiff's
evidence of record; (2) the ALJ failed to properly evaluate
Plaintiff's medical impairments; and (3) the ALJ failed
to evaluate Plaintiff's complaints of pain under Fourth
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred when the ALJ stated
“[a]s for the opinion evidence, no treating or
examining physician provided an opinion that the claimant as
[sic] unable to work. Therefore the undersigned has given
substantial weight to the findings of the State Agency
medical consultants.” (Doc. No. 12-1) (quoting Tr. 23).
Plaintiff argues this misstates the evidence of record
because at least two doctors who examined Plaintiff kept her
out of work or noted that she had impairments that inhibited
her ability to work. (Tr. 580, 843).
opinions are statements from . . . acceptable medical sources
that reflect judgments about the nature and severity of your
impairment(s), including your symptoms, diagnosis and
prognosis, what you can still do despite impairment(s), and
your physical or mental restrictions.” 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1527(a)(2), 416.927(a)(2). The agency will
always consider the medical opinions in the case record,
together with the rest of the evidence received, and it will
evaluate every medical opinion that it receives. See
Id. §§ 404.1527(b)-(c), 416.927(b)-(c). (b).
Adjudicators at the hearing level or ...