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Walker v. Colvin

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

December 22, 2014

JERRY WALKER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES S. COODY, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction.

The plaintiff, Jerry Walker, protectively filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. His application was denied at the initial administrative level. Walker then requested and received a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Following the hearing, ALJ Paul Whitson Johnson also denied the claim. The Appeals Council rejected a subsequent request for review. The ALJ's decision consequently became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner).[1] See Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). The case is now before the court for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405 (g) and 1383(c)(3).[2] Based on the court's review of the record in this case and the briefs of the parties, the court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner should be affirmed.

II. Standard of Review

Under 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A), a person is entitled to disability benefits when the person is unable 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 which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

To make this determination[3] the Commissioner employs a five step, sequential evaluation process. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.

(1) Is the person presently unemployed?
(2) Is the person's impairment severe?
(3) Does the person's impairment meet or equal one of the specific impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1?
(4) Is the person unable to perform his or her former occupation?
(5) Is the person unable to perform any other work within the economy?
An affirmative answer to any of the above questions leads either to the next question, or, on steps three and five, to a finding of disability. A negative answer to any question, other than step ...

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