United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge
Shannon Martin Sneed commenced this action on August 13, 2015
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review
of a final adverse decision of the Commissioner denying her
application for disability insurance benefits. (Doc. 1, Doc.
14). Plaintiff alleged a period of disability beginning on
December 1, 2010. (Doc. 14 at 4; Doc. 17-2 at 13).
Administrative Law Judge Sheldon P. Zisook ("ALJ")
found, inter alia, that the plaintiff has the
following medically determinable impairments: bilateral
carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, and
obesity. (Doc. 17-2 at 15).
determined that the plaintiff "does not have a severe
impairment or combination of impairments."
(Id.). On February 13, 2014, the ALJ issued an
adverse decision. (Id. at 13-20). Because the ALJ
determined that plaintiff has no severe impairments, he did
not proceed beyond step two of the Commissioner's
five-part disability analysis, discussed infra, and
he concluded that the plaintiff is not disabled because she
does not have a severe impairment. See 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i-v). The Appeals Council denied
plaintiffs request for review on June 19, 2015, and the
ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Id. at 2-5). 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.
11, 12). 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 remanded for
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 (1 lth 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 proceeds 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