United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
Cogburn Jr. United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion
for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 6), and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 11). Plaintiff,
through counsel, seeks judicial review of an unfavorable
administrative decision on his application for disability
benefits under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2018). For the
reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED, Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment is DENIED, and this matter is REVERSED and REMANDED
for a decision consistent with this order.
March 21, 2017, Plaintiff first filed an application for
Social Security disability insurance benefits. (Tr. 58).
Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and on
reconsideration. (Tr. 58-69, 152-155). Plaintiff then
requested and was granted a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Tr. 158-165). After a
hearing, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's claim on May 3, 2018.
(Tr. 58-69). Plaintiff then requested review from the Appeals
Council. (Tr. 1-7). The Appeals Council denied review, making
the ALJ's May 3, 2018, decision the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”).
(Id.). After the denial by the Appeals Council,
Plaintiff timely filed this action.
Standard of Review
Court's review of the Commissioner's determination is
limited to evaluating whether the findings are supported by
substantial evidence and whether the correct law was applied.
Mascio v. Colvin, 780 F.3d 632, 634 (4th Cir. 2015).
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Johnson v. Barnhart, 434 F.3d
650, 653 (4th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks omitted).
A reviewing court does not reweigh evidence or make
credibility determinations in evaluating whether a decision
is supported by substantial evidence. “Where
conflicting evidence allows reasonable minds to differ as to
whether a claimant is disabled, ” this Court will defer
to the Commissioner's decision. Id. (internal
quotation marks omitted). The 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).
issue is not whether a court might have reached a different
conclusion had it been presented with the same testimony and
evidentiary materials, but whether the ALJ's decision is
supported by substantial evidence. The Court finds that it is
five-step process, known as “sequential” review,
is used by the Commissioner in determining whether a Social
Security claimant is disabled. The Commissioner evaluates a
disability claim under Title II pursuant to the following
a. An individual who is working and engaging in substantial
gainful activity will not be found to be