United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Vicki Owens (“Owens”) seeks review, pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), § 205(g) of the Social Security
Act, of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (“Commissioner”), denying
her application for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”). (Doc. 1). Owens
timely pursued and exhausted her administrative remedies.
This case is therefore ripe for review under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). The undersigned has
carefully considered the record and, for the reasons stated
below, the Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
Factual and Procedural History
filed her application for DIB on July 23, 2012, which the
Agency initially denied. (Tr. 40-46, 389-97). Owens alleges
she is disabled due to diabetes (feet swelling), high blood
pressure, leg pain, thyroid disease, degenerative disc
disease (back pain), numbness in her left leg, and anemia.
(Tr. 130). Owens requested a hearing, and the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) held a hearing on December 12,
2013, issuing an unfavorable decision on February 28, 2014.
(Tr. 6-20, 24-39). Owens was fifty-eight years old when the
ALJ rendered his decision. (Tr. 20, 28-29, 86, 131). Owens
has a twelfth grade education, and past work history as a
sewing machine operator, receptionist, packer, cashier,
assembler of motor vehicle parts, and file clerk. (Tr. 20,
28-29, 37, 86, 118, 131-32, 155-62).
sought review by the Appeals Council, but it declined her
request on July 24, 2015. (Tr. 1-3). On that date, the
ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner. On September 9, 2015, Owens initiated this
action. (See doc. 1).
Standard of Review
court's review of the Commissioner's decision is
narrowly circumscribed. The function of this Court is to
determine whether the decision of the Commissioner is
supported by substantial evidence and whether proper legal
standards were applied. Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 390 (1971); Wilson v. Barnhart, 284 F.3d
1219, 1221 (11th Cir. 2002). This Court must
“scrutinize the record as a whole to determine if the
decision reached is reasonable and supported by substantial
evidence.” Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d
1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983). Substantial evidence is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Id. It is “more than a scintilla, but less
than a preponderance.” Id.
Court must uphold factual findings supported by substantial
evidence. However, it reviews the ALJ's legal conclusions
de novo because no presumption of validity attaches
to the ALJ's determination of the proper legal standards
to be applied. Davis v. Shalala, 985 F.2d 528, 531
(11th Cir. 1993). If the court finds an error in the
ALJ's application of the law, or if the ALJ fails to
provide the court with sufficient reasoning for determining
the proper legal analysis has been conducted, it must reverse
the ALJ's decision. Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936
F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
Statutory and Regulatory Framework
qualify for disability benefits and establish his or her
entitlement for a period of disability, a claimant must be
disabled as defined by the Social Security Act and the
Regulations promulgated thereunder. The Regulations define
“disabled” as “the inability to do 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 (12) months.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a). To
establish entitlement to disability benefits, a claimant must
provide evidence of a “physical or mental
impairment” which “must result from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which can be
shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1508.
Regulations provide a five-step process for determining
whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(i-v). The Commissioner must determine in
(1) whether the claimant is currently employed;
(2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment;
(3) whether the claimant's impairment meets or equals an
impairment listed by ...