United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA, District Judge.
Plaintiff Addie Michelle Oliver brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and § 1383(c)(3) seeking judicial review of a final adverse decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, affirming the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") who denied Ms. Oliver's Title II claim for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits, and her Title XVI claim for supplemental security income. (TR 1-3). After careful review, the Court finds that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision. Therefore, the Court affirms the Commissioner's ruling.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The scope of review in this matter is limited. "When, as in this case, the ALJ denies benefits and the Appeals Council denies review, " the Court "review[s] the ALJ's factual findings with deference' and her legal conclusions with close scrutiny.'" Riggs v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 522 Fed.Appx. 509, 510-11 (11th Cir. 2013) (quoting Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th Cir. 2001)).
The Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the record to support the ALJ's findings. "Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004). In making this evaluation, the Court may not "reweigh the evidence or decide the facts anew, " and the Court must "defer to the ALJ's decision if it is supported by substantial evidence even if the evidence may preponderate against it." Gaskin v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 533 Fed. Appx 929, 930 (11th Cir. 2013).
With respect to the ALJ's legal conclusions, the Court must determine whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards. If the Court finds an error in the ALJ's application of the law, or if the Court finds that the ALJ failed to provide sufficient reasoning to demonstrate that the ALJ conducted a proper legal analysis, then the Court must reverse the ALJ's decision. Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On August 11, 2009, Ms. Oliver filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits and an application for supplemental security income. (Doc. 10, p. 1; TR 12). In both applications, Ms. Oliver alleged that her disability began on January 15, 2009. (TR 12, 114, 122). The Social Security Administration denied both claims on November 13, 2009. (TR 73-74). Ms. Oliver then filed a written request on December 18, 2009 for a hearing before an ALJ. (Doc. 10, p. 1; TR 80).
The ALJ held an initial hearing on December 30, 2010 (TR 55) and a supplemental hearing on April 20, 2011. (TR 38). At the time of the initial hearing, Ms. Oliver was 33 years old, and she had an eleventh grade education. (TR 58, 148). Ms. Oliver has special job training in business and as a certified nursing assistant. (TR 58, 148). Her past relevant work is as a certified nursing assistant, a poultry deboner, and a furniture assembler. (TR 47, 154).
On June 14, 2011, the ALJ denied Ms. Oliver's claim for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits and her claim for supplemental security income. (TR 12-25). The ALJ found that Ms. Oliver has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 17, 2009, the alleged onset date. (TR 14). The ALJ determined that Ms. Oliver had the following severe impairments:
major depressive disorder, with psychotic features, currently in remission; anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified; post-traumatic stress disorder; crystal methamphetamine dependence by history; and benzodiazepine and opiate abuse versus dependency by history.
(TR 15). The ALJ also concluded that Ms. Oliver has the following non-severe impairments: obesity, lumbago, cervicalgia, and bronchitis. (TR 15, 298). Nevertheless, the ALJ found that Ms. Oliver does not have an impairment or a combination of impairments that meets or medically equals a listed impairment in the Regulations. (TR 15).
The ALJ determined that Ms. Oliver has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels. But, the ALJ noted that Ms. Oliver "is restricted to occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers, and the general public." (TR 16). The ALJ concluded that based upon Ms. Oliver's RFC, she could perform her past relevant work as a furniture assembler and as a poultry deboner. (TR 24). The ALJ also noted that there were other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Ms. Oliver can perform, including garment folder, packager, and assembler. (TR 25, 48, 49). Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Ms. Oliver is not disabled as that term is defined in the Social Security Act. (TR 25). On May 22, 2013, this became the final decision of the Commissioner ...