United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
COGBURN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on judicial review of a
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
Plaintiff Traci Ireland's applications for disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income.
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, requesting an
order of reversal or a remand for rehearing. (Doc. No. 10).
The Commissioner in turn filed his Motion for Summary
Judgment, requesting affirmance. (Doc. No. 12). For the
following reasons, the Court denies Plaintiff's motion,
grants the Commissioner's motion, and affirms the
Commissioner's finding of non-disability.
September 2016, Plaintiff filed applications for disability
insurance benefits under Title II, and supplemental security
income under Title XVI, of the Social Security Act (the
“Act”), alleging she had been disabled since May
31, 2016. (Tr. 125). Plaintiff's claims were denied
initially and upon reconsideration, so she filed a written
request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). The ALJ held a hearing on September 6,
2018, for de novo consideration of Plaintiff's claims.
(Id.). On November 8, 2018, the ALJ issued a
decision, concluding Plaintiff was not disabled within the
meaning of the Act. (Id.). The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review on March 14, 2019,
rendering the ALJ's decision final and thus reviewable by
this Court. (Tr. 1). Plaintiff has exhausted available
administrative remedies, so this case is ripe for judicial
review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Sequential Evaluation Process
provides that “an individual shall be considered to be
disabled . . . if he 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 twelve months.” 42
U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A); see id. §
423(d)(1)(A). The Commissioner uses a five-step sequential
evaluation process to determine whether a claimant is
disabled within the meaning of the Act:
1. An individual who is working and engaging in substantial
gainful activity will not be found to be
“disabled” regardless of medical findings;
2. An individual who does not have a “severe
impairment” will not be found to be disabled;
3. If an individual is not working and is suffering from a
severe impairment that meets the durational requirement and
that “meets or equals a listed impairment in Appendix
1” of Subpart P of Regulations No. 4, a finding of
“disabled” will be made without consideration of
4. If, upon determining residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), the Commissioner finds that an
individual is capable of performing work he or she has done
in the past, a finding of “not disabled” must be
5. If an individual's residual functional capacity
precludes the performance of past work, other factors
including age, education, and past work experience, must be
considered to determine if other work can be performed.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. The
claimant “bears the burden of production and proof
during the first four steps of the inquiry.” Pass
v. Chater, 65 F.3d 1200, 1203 (4th Cir. 1995). If the
claimant carries its burden through the fourth step, the
burden shifts to the Commissioner to show other work exists
in the national economy that the claimant can perform.