United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
Kenneth D. Bell, United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 9) and Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 10), as well as the
parties' briefs and exhibits. Plaintiff, through counsel,
seeks judicial review of an unfavorable administrative
decision on his application for Title II benefits.
carefully reviewed and considered the written arguments,
administrative record, and applicable authority, and for the
reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Defendant's
decision to deny Plaintiff's Social Security benefits is
supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the Court
will DENY Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment; GRANT Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment; and AFFIRM the
Eric Moore applied for Title II benefits on June 22, 2015
(Tr. 172-78). His application was denied at the initial
and reconsideration levels. (Tr. 30, 80-91, 92-103). After
conducting a hearing on November 6, 2017, Administrative Law
Judge Alice Jordan (“ALJ”) denied his application
in a decision dated March 7, 2018. (Tr. 30-39). Moore then
filed for a review of the ALJ's decision with the Appeals
Counsel (AC), which denied review on January 15, 2019. (Tr.
1-8). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision
of the Commissioner, and Moore has requested judicial review
in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION
used the required five-step sequential evaluation process
established by the Social Security Administration to
determine if Moore was disabled during the relevant
period. At step one, the ALJ found that Moore had
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 12,
2015, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 32, Finding 2). At step
two, the ALJ found that Moore had the following severe
impairments: “affective disorder and schizophrenia and
other psychotic disorder.” (Tr. 32, Finding 3). The ALJ
considered Moore's impairments under the listings in 20
CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d),
404.1525 and 404.1526 at step three and found that they did
not meet or medically equal any listing. (Tr. 33, Finding 4).
four, the ALJ found that Moore had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of work
at all exertional levels with the following nonexertional
[M]aintain concentration, persistence and pace for two-hour
periods for simple, routine, repetitive tasks and
instructions and frequently interact with the general public
with no ongoing, constant relationship with the public.
(Tr. 34, Finding 5). Relying on the vocational expert's
(VE) testimony, the ALJ further found that Moore could
perform his past relevant work as a delivery route truck
driver and stock clerk. (Tr. 38, Finding 6). And finally, the
ALJ considered Moore's age, education, work experience,
and RFC, and concluded that he could perform other jobs that
exist in significant number in the national economy, such as
hand packager, kitchen helper, and food service worker. (Tr.
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and §
1383(c)(3), limits this Court's review of a final
decision of the Commissioner to: (1) whether substantial
evidence supports the Commissioner's decision,
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390, 401
(1971); and (2) whether the Commissioner applied the correct
legal standards. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453,
1456 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Hunter v. Sullivan,
993 F.2d 31, 34 (4th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). The District
Court does not review a final decision of the Commissioner
de novo. Smith v. Schweiker, 795 F.2d 343,
345 (4th Cir. 1986); King v. Califano, 599 F.2d 597,
599 (4th Cir. 1979); Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d
773, 775 (4th Cir. 1972).
Social Security Act provides that “[t]he findings of
the [Commissioner] as to any fact, if supported by
substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). In Smith v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1176,
1179 (4th Cir. 1986) (quoting Richardson v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)), the Fourth Circuit defined
“substantial evidence” thus:
Substantial evidence has been defined as being “more
than a scintilla and do[ing] more than creat[ing] a suspicion
of the existence of a fact to be established. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind ...