United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
CHARLES S. COODY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the plaintiff's third case before this
court. Plaintiff Arlean Moses
(“Moses”) filed applications for disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income on August
19, 2008, alleging disability beginning on July 10, 2008. (R.
889). Her applications were denied at the initial
administrative level on June 23, 2010. The plaintiff then
requested and received a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”). Following the hearing, the ALJ
also denied the claim. The Appeals Council rejected a
subsequent request for review. After the Appeals Council
denied review, Moses appealed to this court which remanded
the case to the Commissioner on February 29, 2012. Moses
v. Astrue, Civ. Act. No. 1:11cv581-CSC (M.D. Ala. 2012).
subsequently filed another application for benefits which was
denied by a different ALJ on March 6, 2012. On April 23,
2013, the Appeals Council issued an order vacating the June
23, 2010 decision and the March 6, 2012 decision,
consolidating the cases, and remanding the cases for further
consideration. The Appeals Council directed the ALJ to
associate the cases and render a single decision.
August 20, 2014, the ALJ held another administrative hearing
at which Moses, two medical experts and a vocational expert
testified. On January 16, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision
denying Moses benefits. (R. 889-914). The Appeals Council
rejected a subsequent request for review. Thus, the ALJ's
August 20, 2014 decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner). See Chester
v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986).
case is now before the court for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). The parties have
consented to the United States Magistrate Judge conducting
all proceedings in this case and ordering the entry of final
judgment, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) and M.D.
Ala. LR 73.1. 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
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
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
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); Ingram v. Comm. of
Soc. Sec. Admin., 496 F.3d 1253, 1260 (11th Cir. 2007);
Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir.
2005). “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); Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158-59 (11th Cir. 2004). 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, 1180 (11th
Cir. 1986). The court “may not decide the facts anew,
reweigh the evidence, or substitute . . . [its] judgment for
that of the [Commissioner].” Phillips v.
Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1240 n. 8 (11th Cir. 2004)
(alteration in original) (quotation marks omitted).
[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 40 years old on the alleged
date of onset and almost 47 years old on the date of the
administrative hearing. (R. 912, 959). She completed high
school. (R. 912). Her past work experience includes work as a
sales clerk, hairstylist, and child monitor. (Id.).
The ALJ concluded that the plaintiff has severe impairments
of “bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome status post
release; bilateral cubital tunnel syndrome status post
release; fibromyalgia; degenerative disc disease of the
cervical spine status post fusion; degenerative disc disease
of the lumbar spine; asthma; depression; and bipolar
disorder.” (R. 892). The ALJ also concluded that
Moses' “Grave's disease, plantar fasciitis,
insomnia, migraines, hypertension, left knee pain, fibroids,
and obsessive compulsive disorder” were non-severe
impairments. (Id.). The ALJ concluded that the
plaintiff was unable to perform her past relevant work, but,
using the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404,
Subpt. P., App. 2, as a framework and relying on the
testimony of a vocational expert, he also concluded that
there were significant number of jobs in the national economy
that Moses could perform. (R. 912-13). Accordingly, the ALJ
concluded that Moses was not disabled. (R. 914).
Plaintiff's Claim. As stated by the plaintiff, the sole
issue before the court is whether “[t]he ALJ erred by
failing to properly consider Ms. Moses' fibromyalgia
equaled a listing.” ...