United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DELLA L. GRAY, Plaintiff,
NANCY BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
F. BIVINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Della L. Gray (hereinafter “Plaintiff”) seeks
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security denying her claim for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 216(i) and 223(d). On October 28, 2016, the
parties consented to have the undersigned conduct any and all
proceedings in this case. (Doc. 17). Thus, the action was
referred to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings and
order the entry of judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. Upon
careful consideration of the administrative record and the
memoranda of the parties, it is hereby
ORDERED that the decision of the
Commissioner be REVERSED and REMANDED for
further proceedings not inconsistent with this decision.
filed her application for benefits on November 12, 2012,
alleging disability beginning May 24, 2012, based on
fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, obesity, back injuries,
and arthritis in the arms, upper and lower back, neck, hands
and fingers. (Tr. 132, 166). Plaintiff's application was
denied and upon timely request, she was granted an
administrative hearing before Administrative Law Judge Renee
Blackmon Hagler (hereinafter “ALJ”) on February
3, 2014. (Id. at 30). Plaintiff attended the hearing
with her counsel and provided testimony related to her
claims. (Id. at 31-49). A vocational expert
(“VE”) also appeared at the hearing and provided
testimony. (Id. at 49-51). On April 21, 2014, the
ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding that Plaintiff is
not disabled. (Id. at 12-24). The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review on September 24,
2015. (Id. at 4-7). Therefore, the ALJ's
decision dated April 21, 2014, became the final decision of
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff timely filed
the present civil action. (Doc. 1). The parties waived oral
argument on October 28, 2016 (Doc. 16) and agree that this
case is now ripe for judicial review and is properly before
this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and
Issues on Appeal
1. Whether the ALJ erred in rendering a physical residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) assessment that is
inconsistent with the medical evidence of record, and lacks
an articulated linkage between it and the evidentiary record?
2. Whether the ALJ erred in failing to properly assess the
credibility of Plaintiff?
3. Whether the ALJ erred in failing to order a consultative
orthopedic examination to better determine Plaintiff's
was born on February 17, 1968, and was forty-five years of
age at the time of her administrative hearing on February 3,
2014. (Tr. 33). Plaintiff reported that she is stands 5
‘5 and weighs 308 pounds. (Id. at 34).
Plaintiff graduated from Phoenix University with an
Associate's Degree in Healthcare Administration.
last worked in 2012 as a certified nursing
assistant. (Id. at 182). Her past work also
includes being a housekeeper. (Id. at 36). At the
hearing, Plaintiff testified that she has not worked since
May 17, 2012 due to back problems which makes it difficult
for her to sit or stand for extended periods of time.
(Id. at 37). According to Plaintiff, she feels best
when she is lying down. (Id.) Plaintiff also
testified that although she had two back surgeries in 2012,
she still experiences back pain, and that while her pain
medicine helps, it has not eliminated her back pain.
(Id. at 37-40). Plaintiff also testified that she
suffers from fibromyalgia, arthritis in her shoulder and
Standard of Review
reviewing claims brought under the Act, this Court's role
is a limited one. The Court's review is limited to
determining 1) whether the decision of the Secretary is
supported by substantial evidence and 2) whether the correct
legal standards were applied.Martin v. Sullivan, 894
F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). A court may not decide the
facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute its judgment
for that of the Commissioner. Sewell v. Bowen, 792
F.2d 1065, 1067 (11th Cir. 1986). The Commissioner's
findings of fact must be affirmed if they are based upon
substantial evidence. Brown v. Sullivan, 921 F.2d
1233, 1235 (11th Cir. 1991); Bloodsworth v. Heckler,703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983) (holding substantial
evidence is defined as “more than a scintilla, but less
than a preponderance” and consists of “such
relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.”). In determining
whether substantial evidence exists, a court must ...