United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
K. KALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Henry Thrasher brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking (1) a remand pursuant to Sentence Six,
doc. 8, and (2) a review of the final adverse decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("SSA"), doc. 1. This court finds that the decision
of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") is
supported by substantial evidence. Therefore, the court
AFFIRMS the decision denying benefits.
filed his application for Title XVI and Title XIX
Supplemental Security Income, and for Supplemental Security
Benefits on July 2, 2013, (R. 139-152), alleging a disability
onset date of May 16, 2013, (R 139). After the SSA denied his
application, (R. 84), Thrasher requested a hearing, (R. 96).
At the time of the hearing, Thrasher was 38 years old, (R.
42, 43-44), had completed high school through the tenth grade
and later obtained his GED, (R. 44), and had past work
experience hauling gas as a truck driver. (R. 44-45).
Thrasher has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since his onset date of May 16, 2013. (R. 44).
denied Thrasher's claim on August 5, 2014, (R. 28-35),
which became the final decision of the Commissioner when the
Appeals Council refused to grant review. (R. 1-3). Thrasher
then filed this action for review, doc. 1, and a subsequent
motion of remand pursuant to Sentence Six, doc. 8, both
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Standard of Review
issues before this court are whether the record contains
substantial evidence to sustain the ALJ's decision,
see 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Walden v.
Schweiker, 672 F.2d 835, 838 (11th Cir. 1982), and
whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards, see
Lamb v. Bowen, 847 F.2d 698, 701 (11th Cir. 1988);
Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir.
1986). Title 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)
mandate that the Commissioner's "factual findings
are conclusive if supported by 'substantial
evidence.'" Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d
1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). The district court may not
reconsider the facts, reevaluate the evidence, or substitute
its judgment for that of the Commissioner; instead, it must
review the final decision as a whole and determine if the
decision is "reasonable and supported by substantial
evidence." See Id. (citing Bloodsworth v.
Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (llthCir. 1983)).
evidence falls somewhere between a scintilla and a
preponderance of evidence; "[i]t is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion." Martin, 849 F.2d at 1529
(quoting Bloodsworth, 703 F.2d at 1239) (other
citations omitted). If supported by substantial evidence, the
court must affirm the Commissioner's factual findings
even if the preponderance of the evidence is against the
Commissioner's findings. See Martin, 894 F.2d at
1529. While the court acknowledges that judicial review of
the ALJ's findings is limited in scope, it notes that the
review "does not yield automatic affirmance."
Lamb, 847 F.2d at 701.
Statutory and Regulatory Framework
qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show
"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
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than twelve months." 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A); 42 U.S.C. § 416(i)(I)(A). A physical or
mental impairment is "an impairment that results from
anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities
which are demonstrated by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C. §
of disability under the Act requires a five step analysis. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(f). Specifically, the Commissioner
must determine in sequence:
(1) whether the claimant is currently unemployed;
(2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment;
(3) whether the impairment meets or equals one listed by the
(4) whether the claimant is unable to perform his or her past
(5) whether the claimant is unable to perform any work in the
McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th Cir.
1986). "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.'" Id.
at 1030 (citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)-(f)). "Once
a finding is made that a claimant cannot return to prior work
the burden shifts to the Secretary to show other work the
claimant can do." Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d
1553, 1559 (11th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted).
The ALJ's Decision
performing the Five Step sequential analysis, the ALJ
initially determined that Thrasher had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since his onset date of May 16,
2013, (R. 44), and therefore met Step One. (R. 30). Next, the
ALJ acknowledged that Thrasher's severe impairments of
hypertension, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and
vasodepressor syndrome met Step Two. (R. 30). The ALJ then
proceeded to the next step and found that Thrasher did not
satisfy Step Three since he "[did] not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1."
(R. 32) (internal citations ...