United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN, Senior District Judge.
Plaintiff Wallace Kelley brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his application for supplemental security income ("SSI"). After review of the record, the parties' submissions, and the relevant law, the court is of the opinion that the Commissioner's decision is due to be affirmed.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Kelley applied for SSI on June 16, 2011, alleging a disability onset date of April 19, 2011. (R. 101). The Social Security Administration denied his application on September 8, 2011. (R. 57). He requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), which was held on September 24, 2012. (R. 64-67). The ALJ denied his application on October 11, 2012. (R. 24).
On October 31, 2012, Kelley petitioned the Appeals Council to review the ALJ's decision. (R. 12). On February 7, 2014, the Appeals Council denied his request for review, thereby rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. (R. 1). Kelley appealed to this court on February 25, 2014. (Doc. 1).
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
The court reviews de novo the Commissioner's conclusions of law and reviews her factual findings to determine whether they are supported by substantial evidence. Ingram v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 496 F.3d 1253, 1260 (11th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is "relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Id. (quotation and citation omitted).
A. THE FIVE-STEP EVALUATION
The Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation to determine whether a claimant is disabled and eligible for SSI. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a). For the purpose of this evaluation, "disability" is the "inability 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 has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months...." 42 U.S.C. § 416(i)(1)(A).
1. Substantial Gainful Activity
First, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant is engaged in "substantial gainful activity" as defined by the regulations. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(i); see id. § 416.972. If the claimant is so engaged, he is not disabled. Id. § 416.920(b). Here, the ALJ determined that Kelley had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since he filed his application on June 16, 2011. (R. 19).
2. Severe Impairments
If the claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful activity, the Commissioner determines whether he suffers from a severe impairment or combination of impairments that significantly limit his physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(ii), (c). If the claimant does not have such an impairment or impairments, he is not disabled. Id. § 416.920(c). Here, the ALJ found that Kelley had severe impairments of ...