United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Carleton Metcalf, United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on the parties’ cross
motions for summary judgment (Docs. 10, 12). The issues have
been fully briefed, and the matter is now ripe for ruling.
Following a review of the record, the parties’ briefs,
and relevant legal authority, the Court denies
Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and grants the
Commissioner’s motion for summary judgment.
10, 2014, Plaintiff protectively filed a Title II application
for a period of disability and disability insurance
benefits. (Transcript of Administrative Record
(“T.”) 22.) The same day, Plaintiff also filed a
Title XVI application for supplemental security income. (T.
22.) In both applications, Plaintiff alleged a disability
onset date of June 30, 2013. (T. 22.)
claims were denied initially on September 29, 2014, and then
on reconsideration on March 2, 2015. (T. 22.) On March 31,
2015, Plaintiff filed a written request for hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (T. 22.)
January 20, 2017, a video hearing was conducted before ALJ
Koren Mueller. (T. 22.) Plaintiff appeared in Charlotte,
North Carolina, and the ALJ presided over the hearing from
St. Louis, Missouri. (T. 22.) Vocational expert
(“VE”) Theresa Wolford appeared at the hearing.
(T. 22.) Plaintiff was informed of her right to counsel but
chose to appear and testify without the assistance of an
attorney or other representative. (T. 22.)
April 5, 2017, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. (T.
22-31.) The same day, Plaintiff requested review of the
ALJ’s decision. See (T. 6). Plaintiff’s
request was denied on June 7, 2018. (T. 6-8.)
September 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant action.
See (Doc. 1).
Standard for Determining Disability
individual is disabled, and therefore eligible for disability
payments, if he or she is unable to “engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); accord
Mastro v. Apfel, 270 F.3d 171, 176 (4th Cir. 2001). The
Commissioner undertakes a five-step inquiry to determine
whether a claimant is disabled. Johnson v. Barnhart,
434 F.3d 650, 653 (4th Cir. 2005) (per curiam). Under this
sequential evaluation, the Commissioner must consider each of
the following: (1) whether the claimant has engaged in
substantial gainful employment; (2) whether the claimant has
a severe impairment; (3) whether the claimant’s
impairment is sufficiently severe to meet or exceed the
severity of one or more of the listing of impairments
contained in Appendix I of 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P; (4)
whether the claimant can perform his or her past relevant
work; and (5) whether the claimant is able to perform any
other work considering his or her age, education, and
residual functional capacity (“RFC”). 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920; Mastro, 270 F.3d at
177; Johnson, 434 F.3d at 653 n.1.
steps one and two, the burden is on the claimant to make the
requisite showing. Monroe v. Colvin, 826 F.3d 176,
179 (4th Cir. 2016). If a claimant fails to satisfy this
burden at either of these steps, the ALJ will determine that
the claimant is not disabled, and the process comes to an
end. Mascio v. Colvin, 780 F.3d 632, 634-35 (4th
burden remains on the claimant at step three to demonstrate
that the claimant’s impairments satisfy a listed
impairment and, thereby, establish disability.
Monroe, 826 F.3d at 179. If the claimant fails to do
so, the ALJ must determine the claimant’s RFC.
Mascio, 780 F.3d at 635.
next proceeds to step four where the ALJ determines whether
the claimant can perform his or her past relevant work.
Id. The burden is on the claimant to demonstrate
that he or she is unable to perform past work.
Monroe, 826 F.3d at 180. If the ALJ determines that
a claimant is not capable of performing past work, then the
ALJ proceeds to step five. Mascio, 780 F.3d at 635.
five, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant can perform
other work. Id. The burden rests with the
Commissioner to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that
the claimant can perform other jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy, considering the
claimant’s RFC, age, education, and work experience.
Id.; Monroe, 826 F.3d at 180. Typically,
the Commissioner satisfies this burden at step five with the
testimony of a VE, who responds to a hypothetical question
from the ALJ that incorporates the claimant’s
limitations. Mascio, 780 F.3d at 635;
Monroe, 826 F.3d at 180. If the Commissioner
satisfies her burden at step five, then the ALJ will find
that the claimant is not disabled and deny the application
for disability benefits. Mascio, 780 F.3d at 635;
Monroe, 826 F.3d at 180.
The ALJ’s Final Decision
case, The ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under
sections 216(i), 223(d), and 1614(a)(3)(4) of the Social
Security Act. (T. 22-31.) In support of this ...