Manly Hook v. Carolyn Colvin


UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 6:14-cv-01311-TMC. Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. [1000019676]. [15-2352]

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Appeal: 15-2352 Doc: 33 Filed: 02/08/2017 Pg: 1 of 6 UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 15-2352 MANLY HOWELL HOOK, Plaintiff – Appellant, v. CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Administration, Commissioner of Social Security Defendant – Appellee. Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at Greenville. Timothy M. Cain, District Judge. (6:14-cv-01311-TMC) Argued: December 6, 2016 Decided: February 8, 2017 Before KING, SHEDD, and FLOYD, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. ARGUED: William Daniel Mayes, SMITH, MASSEY, BRODIE, GUYNN & MAYES, P.A., Aiken, South Carolina, for Appellant. Jillian Elizabeth Quick, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Appellee. ON BRIEF: Nora Koch, Acting Regional Chief Counsel, Charles Kawas, Acting Supervisory Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; William N. Nettles, United States Attorney, Marshall Prince, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee. Appeal: 15-2352 Doc: 33 Filed: 02/08/2017 Pg: 2 of 6 Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. 2 Appeal: 15-2352 Doc: 33 Filed: 02/08/2017 Pg: 3 of 6 PER CURIAM: A security Howell Manly social Hook’s administrative application law for judge (ALJ) Disability denied Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income, finding that he is not disabled under the Social Security Act. After the ALJ’s decision became final, Hook filed this action seeking judicial review. Following briefing by the parties and a recommendation by a magistrate judge, the district court affirmed the final decision. Hook now appeals. We affirm. We must uphold the ALJ’s disability determination unless it is based on legal error or, in light of the whole record, is unsupported by substantial evidence. Mascio v. Colvin, 780 F.3d 632, 634 requires (4th Cir. 2015). more than a The substantial scintilla, but may evidence be less standard than a preponderance, of evidence. Hancock v. Astrue, 667 F.3d 470, 472 (4th Cir. 2012). We do not reweigh conflicting evidence, make credibility determinations, or substitute our judgment for that of the ALJ. Johnson v. Barnhart, 434 F.3d 650, 653 (4th Cir. 2005). When conflicting evidence could lead reasonable minds to differ regarding whether a claimant is disabled, we must defer to the ALJ’s determination. Hancock, 667 F.3d at 472. An ALJ is required to use a five-step sequential evaluation process in determining whether a claimant is disabled. See Mascio, 780 F.3d at 634-35 (explaining the process). If the ALJ 3 Appeal: 15-2352 Doc: 33 Filed: 02/08/2017 Pg: 4 of 6 finds that the claimant has been working (step one) or that the claimant’s medical impairments do not meet the severity and duration requirements of the social security regulations (step two), the process ends with a finding of “not disabled.” If the ALJ reaches step three, he must either find that the claimant is disabled because the medical impairments meet or equal an impairment listed in the regulations or continue the analysis, but he cannot deny benefits at this step. If the first determination, the three ALJ steps then do not assesses lead the to a conclusive claimant’s residual functional capacity (“RFC”), which is the most the claimant can do despite physical and mental limitations that affect his ability to work. To make this assessment, the ALJ must consider all of the claimant’s medically determinable impairments of which the ALJ is aware. The ALJ then moves to step four, where the ALJ either finds the claimant not disabled because he is able to perform past work or proceeds to step five because the exertion required for the claimant’s past work exceeds the RFC. The claimant bears the burden of proof at the first four steps, but at step five the burden shifts to the Commissioner to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the claimant can perform other work that exists in significant numbers in the national education, economy, and work considering experience. 4 the The claimant’s Commissioner RFC, age, typically Appeal: 15-2352 Doc: 33 Filed: 02/08/2017 offers this evidence expert responding through to a Pg: 5 of 6 the testimony hypothetical that of a vocational incorporates the claimant’s limitations. If the Commissioner meets her burden, the ALJ finds the claimant not disabled and denies the application for benefits. Conducting this analysis, the ALJ proceeded through step five. In summary, the ALJ found that Hook suffers from the severe impairments of degenerative joint disease and obesity, but that he has the ability to perform sedentary work subject to certain limitations. Based on the vocational expert’s testimony, the ALJ further found that the Commissioner met her burden of proving that Hook is capable of performing work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. For this reason, the ALJ concluded that Hook is not disabled. On appeal, Hook primarily contends that (1) the ALJ’s rationale for rejecting the opinion of Dr. Vaughan Massie is not supported by substantial evidence, (2) the ALJ improperly failed to include certain restrictions in the RFC determination, and (3) the Having ALJ failed thoroughly to adequately considered the explain record, his oral RFC findings. arguments, and controlling legal principles, we conclude that there is no basis to disturb the ALJ’s decision. We reach our decision for substantially the reasons articulated by the district court – that is, the ALJ properly followed the controlling regulations 5 Appeal: 15-2352 Doc: 33 Filed: 02/08/2017 Pg: 6 of 6 in assessing Hook’s application, the ALJ adequately explained the bases for his adverse disability finding, and the decision is supported by substantial evidence. See J.A. 53-74, 93-99 district court (magistrate report and district court order). Based on the foregoing, we affirm the judgment. AFFIRMED 6

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