United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
DARLENE E. LEDBETTER, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
WALLACE CAPEL, Jr., Magistrate Judge.
Darlene E. Ledbetter ("Plaintiff"), filed an application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act ("the Act") and for supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq. Her application was denied at the initial administrative level. Plaintiff then requested and received a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Following the hearing, the ALJ issued a decision in which the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled from the alleged onset date of September 26, 2008, through the date of the decision. Plaintiff appealed, and upon the motion of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"),  this court on April 6, 2012, reversed the decision of the Commissioner and remanded the case for further administrative proceedings. Tr. 763-66. The Appeals Council vacated the earlier decision of the ALJ and remanded the case to the ALJ for further proceedings. Tr. 768-72.
On remand, a second hearing was held on June 25, 2013, before a different ALJ, who issued a decision which again found Plaintiff not disabled from the alleged onset date of September 26, 2008, through the date of the decision, October 15, 2013. The ALJ's decision subsequently became the final decision of the Commissioner. See Pl.'s Br. (Doc. 15) at 4; Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). The case is now before the court for review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties have consented to the conduct of all proceedings and entry of a final judgment by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. Pl.'s Consent to Jurisdiction (Doc. 12); Def.'s Consent to Jurisdiction (Doc. 13). Based on the court's review of the record and the briefs of the parties, the court AFFIRMS the decision of the Commissioner.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A), a person is entitled to 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." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
To make this determination, the Commissioner employs a five-step, sequential evaluation process. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920 (2011).
(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 [the Listing of Impairments]?
(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 three, leads to a determination of "not disabled."
McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th Cir. 1986).
The burden of proof rests on a claimant through Step 4. See Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1237-39 (11th Cir. 2004). A claimant establishes a prima facie case of qualifying disability once they have carried the burden of proof from Step 1 through Step 4. At Step 5, the burden shifts to the Commissioner, who must then show there ...