United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
David Copperthite United States Magistrate Judge.
January 29, 2016, Comelle Timmons ("Plaintiff)
petitioned this court to review the Social Security
Administration's C'SSA") final decision to deny
his claim for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB")
and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI").
See ECF No. 1 ("the Complaint"). After
consideration of the Complaint and each parties cross-motions
for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 14 and 16). the Court finds
that no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D.
Md. 2014). In addition, for the reasons that follow.
Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14) is
DENIED. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
16) is GRANTED, and the decision of the Social Security
Administration is AFFIRMED.
27, 2011. Plaintiff filed a Title XVI application for
supplemental security income alleging disability beginning on
July 1. 2002. His claim was denied initially and upon
reconsideration on November 15. 2011 and July 16. 2012,
respectively. Subsequently, on July 20, 2012, Plaintiff filed
a written request for a hearing and, on May 9, 2014. a
hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge. On June
13, 2014. the ALJ rendered a decision denying Plaintiffs
claims for SSI. See ECF No. 11. Thereafter, on
December 4, 2015. the Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs
request for review of the ALJ's decision. Thus, the
decision rendered by the ALJ at the hearing became the final
decision of the Commissioner. See C.F.R. §
416.1481; see also Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103,
January 29, 2016. Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this Court
seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final
decision. On July 12, 2016. Plaintiff filed a Motion
for Summary Judgment. On August 30. 2016, Defendant filed a
Motion for Summary Judgment. This matter is now fully briefed
and the Court has reviewed Plaintiffs Motion for Summary
Judgement and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
Court is authorized to review the Commissioner's denial
of benefits under 42 U.S.C.A. § 405(g)."
Johnson v. Barnhart, 434 F.3d 650, 653 (4th Cir.
2005) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks omitted).
However, the Court does not conduct a de novo review of the
evidence. Instead, the Court's review of an SSA decision
is deferential, as "[t]he findings of the Commissioner
of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by
substantial evidence, shall be conclusive." 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); see Smith v. Chater. 99 F.3d 635, 638
(4th Cir. 1996) ("The duty to resolve
conflicts in the evidence rests with the ALJ, not with a
reviewing court."); see also Smith v.
Schweiker, 795 F.2d 343, 345 (4, h Cir. 1986)
("We do not conduct a de novo review of the evidence,
and the Secretary's finding of non-disability is to be
upheld, even if the court disagrees, so long as it is
supported by substantial evidence."). Therefore, the
issue before the reviewing court "is not whether
[Plaintiff] is disabled, but whether the ALJ's finding
that [Plaintiff] is not disabled is supported by substantial
evidence and was reached based upon a correct application of
the relevant law." Craig v. Chafer, 76 F.3d
585. 589 (4, h Cir. 1996) ("Under the Social
Security Act. [a reviewing court] must uphold the factual
findings of the [ALJJ if they are supported by substantial
evidence and were reached through application of the correct
evidence means "such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389. 401 (1971)
(internal quotation marks omitted): see Hancock v.
Astrue. 667 F.3d 470, 472 (2012). It "consists of
more than a mere scintilla of evidence but may be less than a
preponderance." Smith v. Chafer, 99 F.3d at
638. "In reviewing for substantial evidence, we do not
undertake to reweigh conflicting evidence, make credibility
determinations, or substitute our judgment for that of the
[ALJJ." Johnson v. Barnhart, 434 F.3d at 653
(internal quotation marks omitted). "Where conflicting
evidence allows reasonable minds to differ as to whether a
claimant is disabled, the responsibility for that decision
falls on the [ALJ]." Id. (internal quotation
marks omitted). Therefore, in conducting the
"substantial evidence" inquiry, the court shall
determine whether the ALJ has considered all relevant
evidence and sufficiently explained the weight accorded to
that evidence. Sterling Smokeless Coal Co. v. Akers.
131 F.3d 438. 439-40 (4th Cir. 1997).
Determinations and Burden of Proof
order to be eligible for DIB, a claimant must establish that
he is under disability within the meaning of the Social
Security Act. The term "disability." for purposes
of the Social Security Act. is defined as the
"[i]nability 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
has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period
of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1505. 416.905. A claimant shall be determined to be under
disability where "his physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such a severity that he is not only unable
to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age.
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy[.]" 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A),
determining whether a claimant has a disability within the
meaning of the Social Security Act, the Commissioner follows
the five-step evaluation process outlined in the Code of
Federal Regulations. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,
416.920; see Barnhart v. Thomas, 540 U.S. 20, 24
(2003). The evaluation process is sequential, meaning that,
"[i]f at any step a finding of disability or
non-disability can be made, the [Commissioner] will not
review the claim further." Barnhart v. Thomas.
540 U.S. at 24; see 20 C.F.R. §§
one. the Commissioner considers the claimant's work
activity to determine if the claimant is engaged in
"substantial gainful activity." 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i). If the
claimant is engaged in "substantial gainful
activity." then the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i). 404.1520(b).
two, the Commissioner considers whether the claimant has a
"severe medically determinable physical or mental
impairment [or combination of impairments] that meets the
duration requirement[.]" 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). If the claimant does
not have a severe impairment or combination of impairments,
then the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 404.1520(c), 416.920(a)(4)(ii),
three, the Commissioner considers the medical severity of the
impairment. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii),
416.920(a)(4)(iii). If the impairment meets or equals one of
the presumptively disabling impairments listed in the Code of
Federal Regulations, then the claimant is considered
disabled, regardless of the claimant's age. education,
and work experience. 20 C.F.R. §§