United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division
CLAUDE M. REEDY, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
K. Lee, Lee & Phipps, P.C., Wise, Virginia, for
Plaintiff; Nora Koch, Acting Regional Chief Counsel, Region
III, Nicole Schmid, Assistant Regional Counsel, and Maija
DiDomenico, Special Assistant United States Attorney, Office
of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Jones United States District Judge
social security case, I affirm the final decision of the
Claude M. Reedy filed this action challenging the denial by
the Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner”) of his applications for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and
supplemental security income benefits (“SSI”)
under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act
(“Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434,
1381-1383f. Jurisdiction of this court exists under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3).
plaintiff filed an application for DIB and SSI on October 27,
2010. Both applications were denied initially and on
reconsideration. Thereafter, the plaintiff obtained a hearing
before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). That
hearing was held on July 22, 2013. The plaintiff and Joann
Hayward (an impartial vocational expert) testified. On August
30, 2013, the ALJ issued a written decision finding that
Reedy was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. Reedy
requested review by the Social Security
Administration’s Appeals Council. The Appeals Council
denied his request for review on December 22, 2014, thereby
making the ALJ’s decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. Reedy then filed this action seeking judicial
review of the Commissioner’s decision.
parties have filed cross motions for summary judgment, and
this case is now ripe for decision.
assessing disability claims, the ALJ applies a five-step
sequential evaluation process. The Social Security
Administration regulations set out the five-step process as:
(1) whether the claimant has worked during the alleged period
of disability; (2) whether the claimant has an impairment
that meets the regulations’ severity and duration
requirements; (3) whether the claimant has a condition that
meets or equals the severity of a listed impairment; (4)
whether the claimant could return to his past work, given the
medical impairments; and (5) if not, whether he could perform
other work present in the national economy. See 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4) (2013).
the first and second step, the claimant bears the burden of
proving that he is under a disability, and if he fails to do
so, he is determined not to be disabled. Blalock v.
Richardson, 483 F.2d 773, 775 (4th Cir. 1972). At the
third step, the claimant can still establish his disability
if he shows that his impairments match a listed impairment.
Monroe v. Colvin, No. 15-1098, 2016 WL 3349355, at
*2 (4th Cir. June 16, 2016) (citing Mascio v.
Colvin, 780 F.3d 632, 634-35 (4th Cir. 2015)). If the
claimant fails at steps one, two, and three, then at step
four, the ALJ makes an assessment of the claimant’s
residual functional capacity
(“RFC”).The claimant still bears the burden of
showing that his “physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such 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), 1382c(a)(3)(B). At step five, the burden shifts
to the Commissioner to prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that the claimant can, in fact, engage in
substantial, gainful work, which exists in the national
economy. See Monroe, 2016 WL 3349355, at
accordance with the Act, I must uphold the
Commissioner’s findings if substantial evidence
supports them and the findings were reached through the
application of the correct legal standard. Craig v.
Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th Cir. 1996). Substantial
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 and citation omitted). Substantial
evidence is “more than a mere scintilla of evidence but
may be somewhat less than a preponderance.” Laws v.
Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir. 1966). It is not
the role of the court to substitute its judgment for that of
the Commissioner. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453,
1456 (4th Cir. 1990).
carefully reviewed the evidence and conclude that the
ALJ’s decision in this case is supported by substantial
evidence and was reached through application of the correct
plaintiff was 54 years old when he claimed disability on
October 16, 2008. He has a college degree and a work history
in sales as a sales person and store owner. He last worked in
October 2008. The plaintiff claims disability based upon
depression, paranoid schizophrenia, anxiety attacks,
hypertension, and a hernia. He says he has a history of
constant paranoia, ...