United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
Kenneth D. Bell United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Christopher
Allan Roddey's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 9)
and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No.
11), as well as the parties' briefs and exhibits.
Plaintiff, through counsel, seeks judicial review of an
unfavorable administrative decision on his application for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits.
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.
filed a Title II application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits on April 26, 2016, alleging
disability beginning August 2, 2014, which he later amended
to claim that his disability onset date was August 18, 2015.
His claim was denied at the initial level on May 12, 2016 and
upon reconsideration on August 29, 2016. (Tr. 16). He had a
hearing before ALJ Randall D. Huggins (the “ALJ”)
who denied the application in a decision on August 22, 2017.
(Tr. 16-27). Roddey then filed for a review of the ALJ's
decision with the Appeals Council, which denied review on
February 2, 2018. (Tr. 1-6). The ALJ's decision stands as
the final decision of the Commissioner, and Roddey has now
requested judicial review in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
reasons stated below, the Court affirms the decision of the
THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION
used the required five-step sequential evaluation process
established by the Social Security Administration to
determine if Roddey had a “disability” under the
law during the relevant period. 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 her 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”).
found at step one of the sequential evaluation that Plaintiff
had not engaged in SGA during the period from his amended
alleged onset date of August 18, 2015 through the date of his
decision. (Tr. 16). At step two, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff had severe, medically determinable
impairments, specifically, “obesity; sleep apnea;
status post left femur fracture and open reduction internal
fixation; bilateral knee impairments; mild bilateral
degenerative joint disease of the hips; tinnitus; headaches;
mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury
and depression.” (Tr.18).
then found at step three that Plaintiff did not have any
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the conditions in
the Listing of Impairments at 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P,
App. 1 (Tr. 19-21). In so concluding, the ALJ discussed in
detail why Roddey's impairments did not meet the
requirements of Listing 1.02 (“there is no evidence of
an inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively
nor an inability to ambulate effectively”), Listing
3.00 (“The claimant's sleep apnea does not meet any
of these listings. The claimant does not have forced vital
capacity (FVC) or forced expiratory volume (FEVl) testing
indicating listing level severity. The claimant has not had
to be hospitalized for this condition … ”) or
Listings 12.04 and 12.06 related to his mental impairments
(the mental impairments did not “result in at least one
extreme or two marked limitations in a broad area of
functioning; rather, Roddey had at most
“moderate” limitations in several areas. Further,
he did not show a medically documented history of at least 2
years duration, consisting of medical treatment, mental
health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly
structured setting(s) that is ongoing and diminishes the
symptoms of mental disorder such that there is minimal
capacity to adopt to changes in environment or demands not
already part of daily life).
step three, the ALJ determined Roddey's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) and discussed at
length why he came to that conclusion. (Tr. 21-25). The ALJ
found that Roddey had the RFC to perform sedentary work, as
defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) as follows:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(a) except: requires an assistive device such
as a cane to stand, walk and/or balance while being able to
remain on task at a sedentary work station; occasional
pushing/pulling with the bilateral lower extremities to the
same extent he is able to lift/carry; occasional climbing of
ramps or stairs; never climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds;
occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching or
crawling; avoid concentrated exposure to loud noise,
vibration, unprotected heights, moving mechanical parts and
bright lights (defined as light brighter than standard office
lighting); limited to simple work related instructions and
directions; limited to simple, routine tasks, but not at a
production rate pace (e.g. assembly line work); capable of
sustaining concentration and pace for two-hour segments
during a standard eight-hour workday; limited to occasional
contact with supervisors, coworkers and the public; capable
of responding appropriately to routine changes in an
unskilled work setting.
then found at step four that Roddey is unable to perform his
past relevant work in building maintenance and as a machinist
because he is currently limited to a reduced range of
sedentary work. (Tr. 26). Finally, at step five, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff - given his age (36), high school
education, work experience and RFC - could perform jobs that
existed in significant numbers in the national economy, such
as a “surveillance system monitor, ”
“stuffer, ” and “paster.” (Tr.
26-27). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Roddey “has
not been under a disability, as defined in the Social
Security Act, at any time from August 18, 2015, the alleged
onset date, through [August 22, 2017, the date of the
ALJ's decision].” (Tr. 27).