United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
J. CONRAD, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on the parties'
cross Motions for Summary Judgment, (Doc. Nos. 9, 10), and
the parties' associated briefs and exhibits. The motions
are ripe for adjudication.
Radford (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of
Andrew Saul's (“Defendant” or
“Commissioner”) denial of her social security
claim. Plaintiff filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“SSA”) on May 29, 2014, alleging a disability
onset date of August 4, 2013. (Doc. No. 8-1: Administrative
Record (“Tr.”) 55). Her application was denied
first on August 8, 2014, (id.), and upon
reconsideration on September 15, 2015. (Id.).
Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing, and an
administrative hearing was held by an administrative law
judge (“ALJ”) on July 25, 2017. (Id.).
this hearing, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled
under the SSA on November 8, 2017. (Tr. 68). Plaintiff
requested a review of the ALJ's decision, but the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on April
14, 2018. (Tr. 14-18). After having exhausted her
administrative remedies, Plaintiff now seeks judicial review
of Defendant's denial of her social security claim in
question before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was disabled
under Sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the SSA. (Tr. 55). To
establish entitlement to benefits, Plaintiff has the burden
of proving that she was disabled within the meaning of the
Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987).
Plaintiff alleges that her disability began on August 4,
2013, due to a combination of physical and mental
impairments. (Tr. 57-58, 60).
reviewing Plaintiff's record and conducting a hearing,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not suffer from a disability
as defined in the SSA. (Tr. 68). In reaching his conclusion,
the ALJ used the five-step sequential evaluation process
established by the Social Security Administration for
determining if a person is disabled. The Fourth Circuit has
described the five-steps as follows:
[The ALJ] asks whether the claimant: (1) worked during the
purported period of disability; (2) has an impairment that is
appropriately severe and meets the duration requirement; (3)
has an impairment that meets or equals the requirements of a
listed impairment and meets the duration requirement; (4) can
return to [her] past relevant work; and (5) if not, can
perform any other work in the national economy.
Radford v. Colvin, 734 F.3d 288, 290-91 (4th Cir.
2013) (paraphrasing 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4),
416.920(a)(4)). The claimant has the burden of production and
proof in the first four steps. Pearson v. Colvin,
810 F.3d 204, 207 (4th Cir. 2015).
at the fifth step, the Commissioner must prove that the
claimant is able to perform other work in the national
economy despite her limitations. See id.; see
also 20 C.F.R. § 416.960(c)(2) (explaining that the
Commissioner has the burden to prove at the fifth step
“that other work exists in significant numbers in the
national economy that [the claimant] can do”). In this
case, the ALJ determined at the fifth step that Plaintiff was
not disabled. (Tr. 67).
reaching his decision, the ALJ first concluded at steps one
through three that Plaintiff was not employed, that she
suffered from severe physical and mental impairments, and
that her impairments did not meet or equal any of the
impairments listed in the Administration's regulations.
(Tr. 58-60). Therefore, the ALJ examined the evidence of
Plaintiff's impairments and made a finding as to
Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). The ALJ found that Plaintiff
has the [RFC] to perform sedentary work . . . except she can
lift 10 pounds occasionally, stand or walk for approximately
2 hours per 8-hour workday and sit for approximately 6 hours
per 8-hour workday with normal breaks. She can never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can occasionally climb
ramps or stairs. She can occasionally balance with hand-held
assistive device (used to ambulate to and from the
workstation). She can frequently stoop, and occasionally
crouch, kneel, or crawl. She is limited to simple, routine,
repetitive tasks performed in a work environment free of
fast-paced production requirements, involving only simple,
work-related decisions, and with few, if any, work place
changes. She is capable of learning simple vocational tasks
and completing them at an adequate pace with persistence in ...