United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
K. KALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Glenn Turner brings this action pursuant to Section 205(g) of
the Social Security Act (the “Act”), 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking review of the final adverse decision
of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”). For the reasons stated below, the
ALJ's decision, specifically her findings regarding
Turner's mental residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), is not supported by substantial evidence
because the ALJ failed to properly evaluate the medical
opinion of Turner's treating psychiatrist, Dr. Miles
O'Hanlon, and other related evidence. Therefore, the
Commissioner's decision is remanded for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
filed his application for Title II Disability Insurance
Benefits and Title XVI Supplemental Security Income on July
16, 2014, alleging a disability onset date of June 30, 2014.
(R. 121), due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
depression, hypertension, diabetes, gout, acid reflux, sleep
apnea, and hyperthyroidism, (R. 176). After the SSA denied
his application, Turner requested a hearing before an ALJ.
(R. 75). The ALJ subsequently denied Turner's claim, (R.
9-11), which became the final decision of the Commissioner
when the Appeals Council refused to grant review, (R. 1-3).
Turner then filed this action pursuant to §205(g) of the
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Doc. 1.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
only issues before this court are whether the record contains
substantial evidence to sustain the ALJ's decision,
see 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Walden v.
Schweiker, 672 F.2d 835, 838 (11th Cir. 1982), and
whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards, see
Lamb v. Bowen, 847 F.2d 698, 701 (11th Cir. 1988);
Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir.
1986). Title 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)
mandate that the Commissioner's “factual findings
are conclusive if supported by ‘substantial
evidence.'” Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d
1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). The district court may not
reconsider the facts, reevaluate the evidence, or substitute
its judgment for that of the Commissioner; instead, it must
review the final decision as a whole and determine if the
decision is “reasonable and supported by substantial
evidence.” See id. (citing Bloodsworth v.
Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983)).
evidence falls somewhere between a scintilla and a
preponderance of evidence; “[i]t is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Martin, 849 F.2d at
1529 (quoting Bloodsworth, 703 F.2d at 1239) (other
citations omitted). If supported by substantial evidence, the
court must affirm the Commissioner's factual findings
even if the preponderance of the evidence is against the
Commissioner's findings. See Martin, 894 F.2d at
1529. While the court acknowledges that judicial review of
the ALJ's findings is limited in scope, the review
“does not yield automatic affirmance.”
Lamb, 847 F.2d at 701.
STATUTORY AND REGULATORY FRAMEOWRK
qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show
“the inability to engage in 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 months.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 423(d)(1)(A); 42 U.S.C. § 416(i)(I)(A). A
physical or mental impairment is “an impairment that
results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological
abnormalities which are demonstrated by medically acceptable
clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” 42
U.S.C. § 423(d)(3).
of disability under the Act requires a five step analysis. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(f). Specifically, the Commissioner
must determine in sequence:
(1) whether the claimant is currently unemployed;
(2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment;
(3) whether the impairment meets or equals one listed by the
(4) whether the claimant is unable to perform his or her past