United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Patrick Auld United States Magistrate Judge.
Dana Doorey, 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 6 (cited herein as
“Tr. ”)), and both parties have moved for
judgment (Docket Entries 8, 10; see also Docket
Entry 9 (Plaintiff's Memorandum); Docket Entry 11
(Defendant's Memorandum); Docket Entry 12
(Plaintiff's Reply). For the reasons that follow, the
Court should remand this matter for further administrative
applied for DIB, alleging a disability onset date of January
15, 2014. (Tr. 238-41.) Upon denial of that application
initially (Tr. 77-91, 120-28) and on reconsideration (Tr.
92-116, 130-37), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 138-39).
Plaintiff, her attorney, and a vocational expert
(“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 48-76.) The ALJ
subsequently ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled
under the Act. (Tr. 12-32). The Appeals Council thereafter
denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6, 235-37),
thereby making the ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's
final decision for purposes of judicial review.
rendering that decision, the ALJ made the following findings:
1. [Plaintiff] meets the insured status requirements of the .
. . Act through December 31, 2019.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 15, 2014.
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
somatoform disorder, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, major
depressive disorder, personality disorder with borderline and
narcissistic features, fibromyalgia, right knee degenerative
joint disease, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome
(POTS), obstructive sleep apnea, reactive airway disease, and
perceived electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
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 she can occasionally climb
ramps and stairs, but should never climb ladders, ropes or
scaffolds. She must avoid hazards including heights and large
moving machinery and she must avoid exposure to fumes and
odors. She is capable of simple, routine tasks but no
fast-paced, high volume workloads. She can perform tasks that
can be performed independently rather than in a group. She is
capable of occasional interaction with coworkers and
supervisors, but should have no interaction with the general
public. In addition, she would need the option to sit every
30 minutes for about 1 to 2 minutes but could continue
working while seated.
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 January 15, 2014, through the date of
(Tr. 17-31 (internal parenthetical citations omitted).)
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). 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, “a reviewing court must uphold the
factual findings of the ALJ [underlying the denial of
benefits] 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).
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, 390 (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) (internal brackets and
quotation marks omitted). “If there is evidence to
justify a refusal to direct a verdict ...