United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff Wesley Douglas (“Douglas”) 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 his application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). Douglas
timely pursued and exhausted his administrative remedies. The
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
was a thirty-five-year-old male at the time of the
Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) decision
on July 25, 2014. (Tr. 39-40). Douglas has a limited
education and no past relevant work. (Tr. 39). Douglas filed an
application for SSI on September 17, 2012. (Tr. 26, 193-98).
The State Agency denied Douglas' application, and Douglas
requested a hearing before an ALJ. (Tr. 26-40, 85). After a
hearing, the ALJ denied Douglas' claim on July 25, 2014.
(Tr. 26-40). Douglas sought review by the Appeals Council,
but it declined his request on August 13, 2015. (Tr. 1-5). On
that date, the ALJ's decision became the final decision
of the Commissioner. Douglas then initiated this action on
October 14, 2015. (Doc. 1).
Standard of Review
The 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. See 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) (citations omitted). This court
will determine the ALJ's decision is supported by
substantial evidence if it finds “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Id. Substantial
evidence is “more than a scintilla, but less than a
preponderance.” Id. Factual findings that are
supported by substantial evidence must be upheld by the
court. The ALJ's legal conclusions, however, are reviewed
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, the
ALJ's decision must be reversed. See Cornelius v.
Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
Statutory and Regulatory Framework
qualify for SSI as well as establish 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 12
months.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.905(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. § 416.908.
Regulations provide a five-step process for determining
whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4)(i-v). The Commissioner must determine in
(1) whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
(2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment;
(3) whether the claimant's impairment meets or equals an
impairment listed by the Secretary;
(4) whether the claimant can perform his past work; and
(5) whether the claimant is capable of performing any work in
the national economy.
See Wall v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 1048, 1052 (10th Cir.
2010); accord McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030
(11th Cir. 1986). “Once the claimant has satisfied
steps one and two, [he] will automatically be found disabled
if [he] suffers from a listed impairment. If the claimant
does not have a listed impairment but cannot perform [his]
work, the burden shifts to the Secretary to show that the
claimant can perform some other job.” Pope v.
Shalala, 998 F.2d 473, 477 (7th Cir. 1993),
overruled in part on other grounds, Johnson v.
Apfel, 189 F.3d 561 (7th Cir. 1999); accord Foote v.
Chater, 67 F.3d 1553, 1559 ...