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Ramsey v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

October 9, 2019

DAWN MICHELLE RAMSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, [1] Defendant.

          ORDER

          Kenneth D. Bell, United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Dawn Michelle Ramsey's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 9) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 13), as well as the parties' briefs and exhibits. Plaintiff, through counsel, seeks judicial review of an unfavorable administrative decision on her application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”).

         Having reviewed and considered the written arguments, administrative record, and applicable authority, and for the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED; Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED; and the Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Ms. Ramsey applied for disability benefits on June 5, 2013. (Tr. at 79, 90).[2] Her application was initially denied on August 21, 2013 (Tr. at 107-08) and again upon reconsideration on February 5, 2015 (Tr. 145-46). After conducting a hearing on March 6, 2017, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied her application in a decision dated April 26, 2017. (Tr. at 18-30). The Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1-3). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner, and Ms. Ramsey has requested judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

         II. THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

         At step one, the ALJ found that Ms. Ramsey had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2000. (Tr. at 20, Finding 2).[3] At step two, the ALJ found that Ms. Ramsey had the following severe impairments: obesity, affective disorder, and anxiety disorder. (Tr. at 20, Finding 3). The ALJ considered Ms. Ramsey's impairments under listings 12.04 and 12.06 at step three and found that they did not meet or medically equal either listing. (Tr. at 21-22).

         The ALJ, at step four, found that Ms. Ramsey has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform medium work with the following limitations:

She can lift/carry/push/pull 25 lbs. frequently, and 50 lbs. occasionally. She is able to sit for 6 hours, stand for 6 hours, and walk for 6 hours each in an 8-hour workday with regular breaks. She can occasionally climb ladders, frequently crouch, and frequently crawl. She needs to avoid concentrated exposure to hazards. She can maintain concentration, persistence and pace for two-hour periods for simple, routine, repetitive tasks and instructions. She can have occasional interaction with the general public, and frequent interaction with co-workers or supervisors.

(Tr. at 22-23).

         In determining Ms. Ramsey's RFC, the ALJ considered several doctors' opinions, including that of Dr. Bierrenbach, Ms. Ramsey's treating doctor. (Tr. at 25-27). The ALJ further found that while Ms. Ramsey is unable to perform any past relevant work, considering her age, education, work experience, and RFC, she can perform other jobs that exist in significant number in the national economy. (Tr. at 28). The vocational expert (VE) testified that Ms. Ramsey would be able to perform jobs such as a night cleaner, production helper, or hand packer. (Tr. at 29).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and § 1383(c)(3), limits this Court's review of a final decision of the Commissioner to: (1) whether substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's decision, Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390, 401 (1971); and (2) whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Hunter v. Sullivan, 993 F.2d 31, 34 (4th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). The District Court does not review a final decision of the Commissioner de novo. Smith v. ...


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