Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Kearse v. Saul

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

October 11, 2019

JONATHAN T. KEARSE, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Robert J. Conrad, Jr. A United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 12), Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 15), and Defendant's Motion for Extension of Time, (Doc. No. 14). The motions are ripe for adjudication.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Jonathan T. Kearse (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of Andrew M. Saul's (“Defendant” or “Commissioner”) denial of his social security claim. Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance under Title II of the Social Security Act (“SSA”) on February 21, 2015. (Doc. Nos. 10 to 10-1: Administrative Record (“Tr.”) at 132, 224.) His application was denied on June 8, 2015. (Tr. 141.) Plaintiff timely filed a request for a hearing on July 30, 2015, (Tr. 148), and an administrative hearing was held by an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) on May 23, 2017, (Tr. 168). Following this hearing, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the SSA. (Tr. 7- 28.) Plaintiff requested a review of the ALJ's decision, but on September 6, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-6.) Having exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff now seeks judicial review of Defendant's denial of his social security claim in this Court.

         B. Factual Background

         The question before the ALJ was whether Plaintiff was disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the SSA. (Tr. 10.) To establish entitlement to benefits, Plaintiff has the burden of proving that he was disabled within the meaning of the SSA.[1]Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987). Plaintiff alleges that his disability began on February 16, 2014 due to physical and mental impairments. (Tr. 126.)

         After 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. 28.) 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). However, at the fifth step, the Commissioner must prove that the claimant is able to perform other work in the national economy despite his 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. 27-28.) In reaching his decision, the ALJ first concluded at steps one through three that Plaintiff was not employed, that he suffered from severe physical impairments, [2] and that his impairments did not meet or equal any of the impairments listed in the Administration's regulations. (Tr. 12-15.) Therefore, the ALJ examined the evidence of Plaintiff's impairments and made a finding as to Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). In pertinent part, the ALJ found that Plaintiff

has the [RFC] to perform sedentary work . . . not requiring working at unprotected heights, around dangerous machinery, or around other similar workplace hazards; he is limited to low-stress work, defined here as work requiring only routine, repetitive tasks; only occasional judgment, decision-making, and workplace changes; only occasional interaction with public, coworkers, and supervisors.

(Tr. 16.) Having established Plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff could not perform the work in which he had previously been employed. (Tr. 27.) The ALJ thus proceeded to the fifth and final step of the process: determining whether, given the limitations embodied in Plaintiff's RFC, Plaintiff could perform any work that existed in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 27-28.) To make that determination, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert (“VE”). The VE testified that Plaintiff could perform three jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy: “election clerk, ”[3] “order clerk, ”[4] and “addresser.”[5](Tr. 28.) According to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”), all of these jobs involve “sedentary work.” The ALJ accepted the VE's testimony and concluded that Plaintiff's impairments did not prevent him from working; consequently, Plaintiff's application for Title II benefits was denied. (Tr. 27-28.)

         II. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.