United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
JON P. COGGIN, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner, Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
KENNETH D. BELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Jon P.
Coggin's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 11) and
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 14), 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 September 4, 2014, alleging
disability beginning February 28, 2014. His claim was denied
at the initial level on December 17, 2014 and upon
reconsideration on April 29, 2015. (Tr. 205, 212). On May 8,
2017, he had a hearing before ALJ Mary Ryerse (the
“ALJ”) who denied the application in a decision
on August 29, 2017. (Tr. 12-27). Coggin then filed for a
review of the ALJ's decision with the Appeals Council,
which denied review on August 13, 2018. (Tr. 1). The
ALJ's decision stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner, and Coggin has now requested judicial review in
this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
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 Coggin 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 alleged
onset date of February 28, 2014 through the date of his
decision. (Tr. 17). At step two, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff had severe, medically determinable
impairments, specifically, “degenerative disc disease
of the cervical and lumbar spine with right sided sciatica;
left shoulder impingement/degenerative joint disease status
post arthroscopy; status-post right shoulder arthroscopy;
neuritis in feet, status post open reduction internal
fixation (ORIF) of right ankle fracture with right ankle
instability; obesity; REM sleep behavior disorder;
obstructive sleep apnea; and bipolar disorder
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. 18-20). After step three, the ALJ determined
Coggin's residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
and discussed at length why he came to that conclusion. (Tr.
20-25). The ALJ found that Coggin 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, I find that
the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except the
claimant requires a cane for ambulation. He can frequently
push and pull with bilateral upper extremities and bilateral
lower extremities, and can occasionally climb ramps and
stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The
claimant cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and is
limited to frequently reaching in front, laterally, and
overhead, bilaterally. The claimant is also limited to
performing simple, routine tasks and is limited to
maintaining concentration, persistence and pace for two-hour
periods during the ...