United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
FRED C. LAMPLEY, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
SONJA F. BIVINS, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Fred C. Lampley (hereinafter "Plaintiff") brings this action seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his claim for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq., and 1381, et seq. On May 1, 2014, the parties consented to have the undersigned conduct any and all proceedings in this case. (Doc. 18). Thus, the action was referred to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings and order the entry of judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. Upon careful consideration of the administrative record and the memoranda of the parties, it is hereby ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED.
I. Procedural History
Plaintiff protectively filed an application for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income on September 23, 2009. (Tr. 149-59). Plaintiff alleged that he has been disabled since May 9, 2009, due to "left hip, heart condition, pinch[ed] nerve in back, [and] spurs [in] groin." (Id. at 173). Plaintiff's applications were denied and upon timely request, he was granted an administrative hearing before Administrative Law Judge Roger A. Nelson (hereinafter "ALJ") on February 24, 2011. (Id. at 36). Plaintiff attended the hearing with his counsel and provided testimony related to his claims. (Id. at 42). A vocational expert ("VE") also appeared at the hearing and provided testimony. (Id. at 72). On January 5, 2012, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding that Plaintiff is not disabled. (Id. at 31). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on April 5, 2013. (Id. at 1). The parties waived oral argument (Doc. 17), and agree that this case is now ripe for judicial review and is properly before this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3).
II. Issue on Appeal
Whether the ALJ erred in not giving controlling weight to the opinions of Plaintiff's treating physician?
III. Factual Background
Plaintiff was born on April 10, 1963, and was forty-seven years of age at the time of his administrative hearing on February 24, 2011. (Tr. 156). Plaintiff testified that he went through the eighth grade in school and last worked in 2008 performing apartment maintenance and remodeling. (Id. at 44, 204). Prior to 2008, Plaintiff worked as a truck driver, in general construction, and at Lowe's as a sales associate. (Id. at 46-47).
Plaintiff testified that he stopped working "[b]ecause of [his] hip." (Id. at 48). According to Plaintiff, his treating physician, Dr. Bose, recommended hip joint replacement surgery, but Plaintiff did not have health insurance or money to pay for it. (Id. at 53, 65). Plaintiff also testified that his treating physician Dr. Dulanto, is "trying to help [him]" and "wants [Plaintiff] to try to get on disability so [he] can get his hip replaced." (Id. at 54). Plaintiff's medications include Lortab (3 times a day for pain), Nitroglycerin (for his heart), Meclizine (for dizziness), Albuterol (for breathing), and Neurontin (for nerve pain). (Id. at 50-55, 59).
Plaintiff testified that he lives with his wife and that he cannot take care of his personal needs because of hip pain. (Id. at 42, 57). According to Plaintiff, he can read and write "okay, " and he can maintain a check book, read the newspaper, and drive. (Id. at 61-62). Plaintiff further indicated that he can only stand and sit for about thirty minutes and is able to walk about a block before becoming uncomfortable. (Id. at 55-56). Additionally, Plaintiff is able to wash dishes and do laundry; however, he cannot do yard work. (Id. at 57). Plaintiff testified that on a scale of one to ten, his pain is an eight for about four or five hours every day. (Id. at 54).
A. Standard of Review
In reviewing claims brought under the Act, this Court's role is a limited one. The Court's review is limited to determining 1) whether the decision of the Secretary is supported by substantial evidence and 2) whether the correct legal standards were applied. Martin v. Sullivan , 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). A court may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Sewell v. Bowen , 792 F.2d 1065, 1067 (11th Cir. 1986). The Commissioner's findings of fact must be affirmed if they are based upon substantial evidence. Brown v. Sullivan , 921 F.2d 1233, 1235 (11th Cir. 1991); Bloodsworth v. Heckler , 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983) (holding substantial evidence is defined as "more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance" and consists of "such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a conclusion."). In determining whether substantial evidence exists, a court must view ...