United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KATHERINE P. NELSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) Plaintiff, Latia Zarita
Allen (“Allen” or “Plaintiff”) seeks
judicial review of an adverse social security ruling denying
claims for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (Docs. 1, 12).
With the consent of the parties, the Court has designated the
undersigned Magistrate Judge to conduct all proceedings and
order the entry of judgment in this civil action, in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 73, and S.D. Ala. GenLR 73. (See
Docs. 15, 17). Oral argument was heard on February 2, 2017.
After considering the administrative record and the memoranda
of the parties, it is ORDERED that the decision of the
Commissioner be AFFIRMED and that this action be DISMISSED.
protectively applied for SSI on February 24, 2005, asserting
a disability onset date of October 1, 2001. (Tr. at 69,
176-78). Plaintiff was awarded benefits as a child, but when
she reached eighteen, her benefits had to be redetermined as
an adult. (TR. at 27). On October 14, 2013, it was determined
that Plaintiff was no longer disabled as of October 1, 2013.
(TR. at 88-89). Plaintiff filed a Request for Reconsideration
on October 11, 2013, and attended a disability hearing on
October 8, 2014. (TR. at 92, 99-110). The hearing officer
upheld the termination of Plaintiff's benefits in a
decision dated March 10, 2014. (TR. at 115-18). Plaintiff
appealed the hearing officer's decision and attended two
hearings before an ALJ on June 16, 2014 and August 19, 2014.
time of the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was nineteen
years old, was in the ninth grade, and had no previous work
experience. (Doc. 12; Fact Sheet). Plaintiff alleges she is
disabled due to intellectual disability and anxiety.
(Id.). On October 24, 2014, an Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) denied benefits after determining
that Plaintiff did not meet disability listing requirements
of 12.05. (Tr. at 24-41). Plaintiff requested review of the
hearing decision, but the Appeals Council denied the request.
claims that the ALJ committed reversible error in (1) failing
to find that Plaintiff met the listing requirement of 12.05C
and (2) failing to fully develop the record. (Doc. 12 at 2).
Defendant has responded to-and denies-these claims. (Doc.
Social Security appeals, [the Court] must determine whether
the Commissioner's decision is ‘ “supported
by substantial evidence and based on proper legal standards.
Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla and is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” ' ”
Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d 1176,
1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Crawford v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (per
curiam) (internal citation omitted) (quoting Lewis v.
Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir. 1997))).
However, the Court “ ‘may not decide the facts
anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute our judgment for
that of the [Commissioner].' ” Winschel,
631 F.3d at 1178 (quoting Phillips v. Barnhart, 357
F.3d 1232, 1240 n.8 (11th Cir. 2004) (alteration in original)
(quoting Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239
(11th Cir. 1983))). “ ‘Even if the evidence
preponderates against the [Commissioner]'s factual
findings, we must affirm if the decision reached is supported
by substantial evidence.' ” Ingram, 496
F.3d at 1260 (quoting Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d
1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990)).
within this narrowly circumscribed role, [courts] do not act
as automatons. [The court] must scrutinize the record as a
whole to determine if the decision reached is reasonable and
supported by substantial evidence[.]”
Bloodsworth, 703 F.2d at 1239 (citations and
quotation omitted). See also Owens v. Heckler, 748
F.2d 1511, 1516 (11th Cir. 1984) (per curiam) (“We are
neither to conduct a de novo proceeding, nor to rubber stamp
the administrative decisions that come before us. Rather, our
function is to ensure that the decision was based on a
reasonable and consistently applied standard, and was
carefully considered in light of all the relevant
facts.”). “In determining whether substantial
evidence exists, [a court] must…tak[e] into account
evidence favorable as well as unfavorable to the
[Commissioner's] decision.” Chester v.
Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986).
the “claimant bears the burden of demonstrating the
inability to return to [his or] her past relevant work, the
Commissioner of Social Security has an obligation to develop
a full and fair record.” Shnorr v. Bowen, 816
F.2d 578, 581 (11th Cir. 1987). See also Ellison v.
Barnhart, 355 F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2003) (per
curiam) (“It is well-established that the ALJ has a
basic duty to develop a full and fair record. Nevertheless,
the claimant bears the burden of proving that he is disabled,
and, consequently, he is responsible for producing evidence
in support of his claim.” (citations omitted)).
“This is an onerous task, as the ALJ must scrupulously
and conscientiously probe into, inquire of, and explore for
all relevant facts. In determining whether a claimant is
disabled, the ALJ must consider the evidence as a
whole.” Henry v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 802
F.3d 1264, 1267 (11th Cir. 2015) (per curiam) (citation and
as here, the ALJ denied benefits and the Appeals Council
denied review of that decision, the Court “review[s]
the ALJ's decision as the Commissioner's final
decision.” Doughty, 245 F.3d at 1278.
“[W]hen the [Appeals Council] has denied review, [the
Court] will look only to the evidence actually presented to
the ALJ in determining whether the ALJ's decision is
supported by substantial evidence.” Falge v.
Apfel, 150 F.3d 1320, 1323 (11th Cir. 1998).
takes issue with the fact that the ALJ did not find that she
met the listing requirements of 12.05C. More specifically,
Plaintiff contends that her anxiety should have satisfied the
second prong of 12.05C which requires “a physical or
other mental impairment imposing an additional and
significant work related limitation of function”. (Doc.
12 at 2). Plaintiff additionally claims that the ALJ failed
to fully develop the record by not obtaining updated records.
Id. Because Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's
error relating to the listing requirement of 12.05C is ...