United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
G. CORNELIUS U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Robert Grant appeals from the decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner")
denying his application for Supplemental Security Income
("SSI") and Disability Insurance Benefits
("DIB"). Plaintiff timely pursued and exhausted his
administrative remedies, and the decision of the Commissioner
is ripe for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3). Also pending is Plaintiff's motion to remand.
(Doc. 19). For the reasons that follow, the
Commissioner's decision is due to be affirmed, and the
motion to remand is due to be denied.
FACTS, FRAMEWORK, AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
was forty-nine years old at the time of the Administrative
Law Judge's ("ALJ's") decision. (R. 99). He
has a high school education and speaks English. (R. 31). His
past relevant work includes kitchen helper, industrial
cleaner, utility worker, and yard worker. (R. 31). These jobs
are classified at the medium or heavy exertional level.
(Id.). Plaintiff claimed an onset date of March 1,
2010, and stated he had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity (“SGA”) since that time. (R. 25).
evaluating the disability of individuals over the age of
eighteen, the regulations prescribe a five-step sequential
evaluation process. See 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520, 416.920; Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274,
1278 (11th Cir. 2001). The first step requires a
determination whether the claimant is performing SGA. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). If the claimant is engaged
in SGA, he or she is not disabled and the evaluation stops.
Id. If the claimant is not engaged in SGA, the
Commissioner proceeds to consider the combined effects of all
the claimant's physical and mental impairments. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). These
impairments must be severe and must meet durational
requirements before a claimant will be found disabled.
Id. The decision depends on the medical evidence in
the record. See Hart v. Finch, 440 F.2d 1340, 1341
(5th Cir. 1971). If the claimant's impairments are not
severe, the analysis stops. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). Otherwise, the
analysis continues to step three, at which the Commissioner
determines whether the claimant's impairments meet the
severity of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii). If the impairments
fall within this category, the claimant will be found
disabled without further consideration. Id. If the
impairments do not fall within the listings, the Commissioner
determines the claimant's residual functional capacity
("RFC"). 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e),
four the Commissioner determines whether the impairments
prevent the claimant from returning to past relevant work. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv). If
the claimant is capable of performing past relevant work, he
or she is not disabled and the evaluation stops. Id.
If the claimant cannot perform past relevant work, the
analysis proceeds to the fifth step, at which the
Commissioner considers the claimant's RFC, as well as the
claimant's age, education, and past work experience, to
determine whether he or she can perform other work.
Id.; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v),
416.920(a)(4)(v). If the claimant can do other work, he or
she is not disabled. Id.
the sequential evaluation process, ALJ Perry Martin found
Plaintiff had not engaged in SGA since the alleged onset of
his disability. (R. 25). At step two, the ALJ found Plaintiff
suffered from the following severe impairments: coronary
artery disease; obesity; diabetes mellitus with neuropathy;
hypertension; status-post gastric bypass; and depression.
three, the ALJ found Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments meeting or medically equaling any
of the listed impairments. (Id.). Before proceeding
to step four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the RFC to
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR §§
404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) with the following limitations:
The claimant must periodically alternate sitting and standing
at 30-minute or greater intervals to relieve pain and
discomfort; occasional pushing or pulling with lower
extremities; no climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds;
occasionally climbing ramps and stairs; occasionally
balancing, kneeling, crouching, stooping; no crawling; avoid
concentrated exposure to extreme heat and cold, and
vibration; no exposure to dangerous machinery, and
unprotected heights; no work requiring walking on even
terrain. During a regularly scheduled workday, or the
equivalent thereof, the individual can: understand and
remember short and simple instructions, but is unable to [do]
so with detailed or complex instructions; do simple, routine,
repetitive tasks, but is unable to do so with detailed or
complex tasks; the claimant is able to deal with workplace
changes if they are well-explained and introduced
occasionally and gradually.
four, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any
of his past relevant work. (R. 31). Because the
Plaintiff's RFC did not allow for the full range of
sedentary work, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a
vocational expert as evidence for finding a significant
number of jobs in the national economy Plaintiff can perform.
(R. 31-32). The ALJ concluded by finding Plaintiff was not
disabled. (R. 32).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court's role in reviewing claims brought under the Social
Security Act is a narrow one. The scope of its review is
limited to determining (1) whether there is substantial
evidence in the record as a whole to support the findings of
the Commissioner, and (2) whether the correct legal standards
were applied. See Stone v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
544 F.App'x 839, 841 (11th Cir. 2013) (citing
Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155,
1158 (11th Cir. 2004)). A court gives deference to the
factual findings of the Commissioner, provided those findings
are supported by substantial evidence, but applies close
scrutiny to the legal conclusions. See Miles v.
Chater, 84 F.3d 1397, 1400 (11th Cir. 1996).
a court may not decide facts, weigh evidence, or substitute
its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Dyer v.
Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1240 n.8 (11th
Cir. 2004)). "The substantial evidence standard permits
administrative decision makers to act with considerable
latitude, and 'the possibility of drawing two
inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent
an administrative agency's finding from being supported
by substantial evidence.'" Parker v. Bowen,
793 F.2d 1177, 1181 (11th Cir. 1986) (Gibson, J., dissenting)
(quoting Consolo v. Fed. Mar. Comm'n, 383 U.S.
607, 620 (1966)). Indeed, even if a court finds that the
proof preponderates ...