United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
COGBURN JR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiffs Motion to
Receive New and Material Evidence (Doc. No. 14), Plaintiff s
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 13), and
Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 20).
This matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.
Having considered the motions and reviewed the pleadings, the
Court enters the following Order.
September 4, 2014, Plaintiff Joseph Debty filed applications
for disability insurance benefits under Title II, and
supplemental security income under Title XVI, of the Social
Security Act (the “Act”). In both applications,
Plaintiff alleged he became disabled beginning June 1, 2003.
(Tr. 171, 175). Plaintiffs claims were denied initially and
upon reconsideration, so he filed a request for a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Tr.
11). On August 31, 2017, ALJ Colin Fritz held a hearing for
de novo consideration of Plaintiffs claims. (Id.).
Thereafter, on November 15, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision
concluding Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of
the Act. (Tr. 11-21). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff s
request for review on September 25, 2018, rendering the
ALJ’s decision a final decision reviewable by this
Court. (Tr. 5). Plaintiff exhausted all available
administrative remedies, so this case is ripe for judicial
review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
appears that the ALJ’s findings of fact are supported
by substantial evidence. As such, this Court adopts and
incorporates those findings herein as fully set forth. The
findings are referenced in the substantive discussion that
STANDARD OF REVIEW
considering cross-motions for summary judgment, this Court
“examines each motion separately, employing the
familiar standard” provided by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56. Desmond v. PNGI Charles Town Gaming,
630 F.3d 351, 354 (4th Cir. 2011). Thus, each motion is
reviewed “on its own merits ‘to determine whether
either of the parties deserve judgment as a matter of
law.’” Rossignol v. Voorhaar, 316 F.3d
516, 523 (4th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).
reviewing a disability determination, the Court “is
required to uphold the determination when an ALJ has applied
correct legal standards and the ALJ’s factual findings
are supported by substantial evidence.” Bird v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 699 F.3d 337, 340 (4th
Cir. 2012). Federal courts do not conduct de novo review of
the evidence. See Smith v. Schweiker, 795 F.2d 343,
345 (4th Cir. 1986). Instead, our inquiry is limited to
whether there is “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Hancock v. Astrue, 667 F.3d 470,
472 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting Richardson v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). It “consists of more than a
mere scintilla evidence but may be less than a
preponderance.” Id. The Court will not
“reweigh conflicting evidence, make credibility
determinations, or substitute our judgment for that of the
ALJ.” Id. (citation and alterations omitted).
Put simply, “[w]here conflicting evidence allows
reasonable minds to differ as to whether a claimant is
disabled, the responsibility for that decision falls on the
ALJ.” Id (citation and alterations omitted).
necessary predicate to engaging in substantial evidence
review is a record of the basis for the ALJ’s
ruling.” Radford v. Colvin, 734 F.3d 288, 295
(4th Cir. 2013). Thus, “[t]he record should include a
discussion of which evidence the ALJ found credible and why,
and specific application of the pertinent legal requirements
to the record evidence.” Id If the Court has
“no way of evaluating the basis for the ALJ’s
decision, ‘the proper course, except in rare
circumstances, is to remand to the agency for additional
investigation or explanation.’” Id
(quoting Florida Power & Light v. Lorion, 470
U.S. 729, 744 (1985)); see Brown v. Colvin, 639
Fed.Appx. 921, 922 (4th Cir. 2016) (recognizing that district
courts may not “min[e] facts from the [administrative]
record to support the ALJ’s decisions”). This
ensures the ALJ can “adequately explain his reasoning .
. . in the first instance.” Radford, 734 F.3d
Court has reviewed the transcript of Plaintiff’s
administrative hearing, the decision of the ALJ, and the
administrative record. The issue is not whether the Court
might have reached a different conclusion had it been
presented with the same testimony and evidence, but whether
the decision of the ALJ is supported by substantial evidence.
For the reasons explained herein, the Court finds that it is.
Commissioner uses a five-step sequential evaluation process
to determine whether a claimant is ...