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Earley v. Saul

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

August 5, 2019

STEPHEN B. EARLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          L. Patrick Auld, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff, Stephen B. Earley, 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 12 (cited herein as “Tr. ___”)), and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 15, 17; see also Docket Entry 16 (Plaintiff's Brief); Docket Entry 18 (Defendant's Memorandum). For the reasons that follow, the Court should remand this matter for further administrative proceedings.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff applied for DIB, alleging a disability onset date of November 1, 2006. (Tr. 145-51.) Upon denial of that application initially (Tr. 62-69, 78-81) and on reconsideration (Tr. 70-77, 84-87), Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 91-92). Plaintiff, his attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended the hearing. (Tr. 26-61.) The ALJ subsequently ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr. 10-21.) The Appeals Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6, 9, 141-44), 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] last met the insured status requirements of the . . . Act on September 30, 2010.
2. [Plaintiff] stated that he did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from his alleged onset date of November 1, 2006 through his date last insured of September 30, 2010.
. . .
3. Through the date last insured, [Plaintiff] had the following severe impairments: migraines and chronic pain syndrome.
. . .
4. Through the date last insured, [Plaintiff] did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
. . .
5. . . . [T]hrough the date last insured, [Plaintiff] had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: [Plaintiff] is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks due to pain.
. . .
6. Through the date last insured, [Plaintiff] was capable of performing past relevant work as a Dump Truck Driver. This work did not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by ...

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