DANIEL POTEAT, SR. Plaintiff,
CAROLYN COLVIN,  Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
THOMAS M. DIGIROLAMO, Magistrate Judge.
Daniel Poteat, Sr. ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner"), denying his claim for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.§§ 1381-83(c). Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Pl.'s Mot. Summ., ECF No. 14) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Def.'s Mot. Summ., ECF No. 16). No hearing is deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.). For the reasons presented below, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
I. Procedural History
Plaintiff filed his application on December 10, 2008 alleging disability since December 1, 2008 due to chronic back pain, numbness in left leg, weakness in left hand and arm, breathing problems and hepatitis C. R. at 16, 98-100, 113. His claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. R. at 55-58, 59-60. On June 24, 2010, a hearing was held before an administrative law judge ("ALJ") at which Plaintiff and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. R. at 25-52. Plaintiff was represented by counsel. In a decision July 12, 2010, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's request for benefits. R. at 13-24. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision subject to judicial review. R. at 1-4.
II. ALJ's Decision
The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's claim for SSI using the sequential process set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. At the first step, the ALJ determined that Claimant had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his application date. At step two, the ALJ determined that Claimant suffered from the following severe impairments: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C, depression and cocaine abuse. At step three, the ALJ found that his impairments did not meet or equal the Listings of Impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt, P, app. 1. The ALJ concluded at step four that Plaintiff had no past relevant work. At step five, the ALJ concluded that, given his residual functional capacity ("RFC"), Claimant was capable of performing jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy. Accordingly, he concluded that Claimant was not disabled. R. at 13-24.
III. Standard of Review
The role of this court on review is to determine whether substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's decision and whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)(1994 & Supp. V 1999); Pass v. Chater, 65 F.3d 1200, 1202 (4th Cir. 1995); Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). It is more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance, of the evidence presented. Shively v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 987, 989 (4th Cir. 1984). It is such evidence that a reasonable mind might accept to support a conclusion, and must be sufficient to justify a refusal to direct a verdict if the case were before a jury. Hays, 907 F.2d at 1456 (quoting Laws v. Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir. 1966)). This court cannot try the case de novo or resolve evidentiary conflicts, but rather must affirm a decision supported by substantial evidence. Id.
Plaintiff argues that (1) the ALJ erred by failing to give controlling weight to the opinions of his treating psychiatrist, Dr. Kim and his treating primary care physician, Dr. Scott;
(2) the ALJ's findings at steps 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the sequential evaluation were not supported by substantial evidence; (3) the ALJ's mental RFC findings were inadequate; (4) the ALJ's hypothetical to the VE was incomplete; and (5) the ALJ's credibility findings were not based on substantial evidence.
A. Treating Psychiatrist
The standard for reviewing and weighing medical opinions is set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(d), which states in pertinent part:
[W]e give more weight to opinions from your treating sources, since these sources are... most able to provide a detailed, longitudinal picture of your medical impairment(s) and may bring a unique perspective to the medical evidence that cannot be obtained from the objective medical findings alone... If we find that a treating source's opinion on the issue(s) of the nature and severity of your impairment(s) is well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with the other substantial evidence in your ...