United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge
Gwendolyn Russell commenced this action on September 22,
2015, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial
review of a final adverse decision of the Commissioner
denying her application for a period of disability,
disability insurance benefits, and Supplemental Security
Income. (Doc. 1, 12, 13). Plaintiff alleged disability as of
March 31, 2012 due to asthma, a hernia, lower back problems,
anemia, and high blood pressure. (Doc. 13, 14-2 at 17-26). On
April 24, 2014, Administrative Law Judge Angela L. Neel
("the ALJ") issued an adverse
decision. (Doc. 14-2 at 17-26). The Appeals Council
denied plaintiffs request for review, and the ALJ's
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner.
(Id. at 2-8).
instant appeal, the plaintiff requests that the court remand
this cause to the Commissioner under either sentence four or
sentence six of § 405(g). (Doc. 12). This case is ripe
for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3). The parties have consented to entry of final
judgment by the Magistrate Judge. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c). (Doc. 6, 7). For the reasons stated herein,
and based upon its review of the record, the court finds that
the Commissioner's decision is due to be affirmed.
Plaintiff also moves for an award of reasonable
attorney's fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice
Act, 28 U.S.C. § 241(d) and for an extension of time to
file an application for 42 U.S.C. § 406(b)
attorney's fees. (Doc. 12 at 10). Because the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed, the motions will be
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. A reviewing court "may not decide facts
anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute [its] decision for
that of the [Commissioner]." Dyer v. Barnhart,
395 F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005). In other words, this
court is prohibited from reviewing the Commissioner's
findings of fact de novo, even where a preponderance
of the evidence supports alternative conclusions.
the court must uphold factual findings that are supported by
substantial evidence, 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 that the proper legal analysis has
been conducted, it must reverse the ALJ's decision.
Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th
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 an entitlement to disability benefits, a claimant
must provide evidence about a "physical or mental
impairment" that "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 the Commissioner;
(4) whether the claimant can perform his or her past work;
(5) whether the claimant is capable of performing any work in
the national economy.
Pope v. Shalala, 998 F.2d 473, 477 (7th Cir. 1993)
(citing to a formerly applicable C.F.R. section),
overruled on other grounds by Johnson v. Apfel, 189
F.3d 561, 562-63 (7th Cir. 1999); accord McDaniel v.
Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th Cir. 1986). The
sequential analysis goes as follows:
Once the claimant has satisfied steps One and Two, she will
automatically be found disabled if she suffers from a listed
impairment. If the claimant does not have a listed impairment
but cannot perform her work, the burden shifts to the
[Commissioner] to show that the claimant can perform some
Pope, 998 F.2d at 477; accord Foote v.
Chater,67 F.3d 1553, 1559 (11th Cir. 1995). The
Commissioner must further show that such work exists in the