United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
CHARLES S. COODY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits pursuant
to Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401 et seq., and for supplemental security
income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 1381 et seq., alleging that she was
unable to work because of a disability. Her application was
denied at the initial administrative level. The plaintiff
then requested and received a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Following the
hearing, the ALJ concluded that the plaintiff was not under a
“disability” as defined in the Social Security
Act, and denied the plaintiff's claim for benefits. 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”). 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). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
the parties have consented to entry of final judgment by the
United States Magistrate Judge. 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.
Standard of Review
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 . . .
this determination,  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
(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
McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th Cir.
standard of review of the Commissioner's decision is a
limited one. This court must find the Commissioner's
decision conclusive if it is supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Graham v. Apfel,
129 F.3d 1420, 1422 (11th Cir. 1997). “Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla, but less than a
preponderance. It is such relevant evidence as a reasonable
person would accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971). A reviewing court may not look only to those
parts of the record which supports the decision of the ALJ
but instead must view the record in its entirety and take
account of evidence which detracts from the evidence relied
on by the ALJ. Hillsman v. Bowen, 804 F.2d 1179
(11th Cir. 1986).
[The court must] . . . scrutinize the record in its entirety
to determine the reasonableness of the [Commissioner's] .
. . factual findings . . . No similar presumption of validity
attaches to the [Commissioner's] . . . legal conclusions,
including determination of the proper standards to be applied
in evaluating claims.
Walker v. Bowen, 826 F.2d 996, 999 (11th Cir. 1987).
Introduction. The plaintiff was 52 years old at the time of
the hearing before the ALJ and had completed the eighth
grade. (R. 24, 39). Following the hearing, the ALJ concluded
that the plaintiff has severe impairments of “chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), status post
arthroscopic surgery of bilateral knees, osteoarthritis of
knees, bilateral knee edema no (sic) otherwise specified,
morbid obesity, and dysthymic disorder versus major
depressive disorder.” (R. 13). Her prior work
experience includes work as a cashier. (R. 24). The ALJ
concluded that Carroll could perform her past relevant work,
and thus, she was not disabled. (Id.). In the
alternative, relying on the testimony of a vocational expert,
the ALJ concluded that there were jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy that Carroll
could perform. (R. 24-25). Consequently, the ALJ concluded
that she was not disabled. (R. 25-26).
Plaintiff's Claims. Carroll presents three issues for the
court's review. As stated by the plaintiff, the issues
are as follows:
1. The Commissioner failed to fully and fairly develop the
2. The Commissioner failed to sufficiently assess Ms.
Cameron's (sic) credibility.
3. The Commissioner improperly determined the claimant's
residual functional capacity (RFC).