United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
SCOTT M. DAWLING, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
PATRICK AULD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Scott M. Dawling, brought this action pro se
pursuant to the Social Security Act (the “Act”)
to obtain judicial review of a final decision of Defendant,
the Commissioner of Social Security, denying Plaintiff's
claims for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). (Docket
Entry 2.) Defendant has filed the certified administrative
record (Docket Entry 14 (cited herein as “Tr.
”)), and both parties have moved for judgment (Docket
Entries 16, 17; see also Docket Entry 18
(Defendant's Memorandum), Docket Entry 20
(Plaintiff's Reply)). For the reasons that follow, the
Court should enter judgment for Defendant.
applied for DIB and SSI, alleging a disability onset date of
July 20, 2011. (Tr. 273-84.) Upon denial of those
applications initially (Tr. 81-104, 156-60) and on
reconsideration (Tr. 105-32, 161-70, 174-82), Plaintiff
requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 183-84). Plaintiff, his
attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) attended
the hearing (Tr. 55-80), at which Plaintiff amended his
disability onset date to July 21, 2015, the day after an
ALJ's decision denying Plaintiff's prior claims for
DIB and SSI (see Tr. 41, 62). The ALJ subsequently
ruled that Plaintiff did not qualify as disabled under the
Act. (Tr. 38-50). The Appeals Council thereafter denied
Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-7, 272), thereby
making the ALJ's ruling the Commissioner's final
decision for purposes of judicial review.
rendering that decision, the ALJ made the following findings:
1. [Plaintiff] meets the insured status requirements of the .
. . Act through December 31, 2016.
2. [Plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since July 21, 2015[, ] the amended alleged onset
3. [Plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: history
of ankle fractures and inflammatory arthritis. . . .
4. [Plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1. . . .
5. . . . [Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to
perform medium work . . . . He can frequently perform
crouching[.] . . .
6. [Plaintiff] is unable to perform any past relevant work. .
10. Considering [Plaintiff's] age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that [Plaintiff] can perform. . . .
11. [Plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as defined
in the . . . Act, from July 21, 2015, through the date of
(Tr. 43-49 (internal parenthetical citations omitted).)
law “authorizes judicial review of the Social Security
Commissioner's denial of social security benefits.”
Hines v. Barnhart, 453 F.3d 559, 561 (4th Cir.
2006). However, “the scope of . . . review of [such a]
decision . . . is extremely limited.” Frady v.
Harris, 646 F.2d 143, 144 (4th Cir. 1981). Plaintiff has
not established entitlement to relief under the extremely
limited review standard.
Standard of Review
are not to try [a Social Security] case de novo.”
Oppenheim v. Finch, 495 F.2d 396, 397 (4th Cir.
1974). Instead, “a reviewing court must uphold the
factual findings of the ALJ [underlying the denial of
benefits] if they are supported by substantial evidence and
were reached through application of the correct legal
standard.” Hines, 453 F.3d at 561 (internal
brackets and quotation marks omitted).
evidence means ‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Hunter v. Sullivan, 993 F.2d
31, 34 (4th Cir. 1992) (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971)). “It consists
of more than a mere scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat
less than a preponderance.” Mastro v. Apfel,
270 F.3d 171, 176 (4th Cir. 2001) (internal brackets and
quotation marks omitted). “If there is evidence to
justify a refusal to direct ...