United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff Daphne Deniese Terry
seeks judicial review of a final adverse decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security. The Commissioner denied Ms.
Terry's claim for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits. After careful review, the Court remands
the Commissioner's decision.
26, 2012, Ms. Terry applied for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits. (Doc. 7-6, p. 2). Ms. Terry
alleges that her disability began October 4, 2011. (Doc. 7-6,
p. 2). The Commissioner initially denied Ms. Terry's
claim on December 3, 2012. (Doc. 7-5, p. 3). Ms. Terry
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
(Doc. 7-5, p. 10). The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
January 23, 2014. (Doc. 7-3, pp. 22-38). On April 27, 2015,
the Appeals Council declined Ms. Terry's request for
review (Doc. 7-3, p. 6), making the Commissioner's
decision final and a proper candidate for this Court's
judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
scope of review in this matter is limited. “When, as in
this case, the ALJ denies benefits and the Appeals Council
denies review, ” the Court “review[s] the
ALJ's ‘factual findings with deference' and
[his] ‘legal conclusions with close
scrutiny.'” Riggs v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 522 Fed.Appx. 509, 510-11 (11th Cir. 2013)
(quoting Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th
Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in
the record to support the ALJ's factual findings.
“Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla and is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Crawford v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir.
2004). In evaluating the administrative record, the Court may
not “decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence,
” or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 631 F.3d
1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations and citation
omitted). If substantial evidence supports the ALJ's
factual findings, then the Court “must affirm even if
the evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
findings.” Costigan v. Comm'r, Soc. Sec.
Admin., 603 Fed.Appx. 783, 786 (11th Cir. 2015) (citing
Crawford, 363 F.3d at 1158).
respect to the ALJ's legal conclusions, the Court must
determine whether the ALJ applied the correct legal
standards. If the Court finds an error in the ALJ's
application of the law, or if the Court finds that the ALJ
failed to provide sufficient reasoning to demonstrate that
the ALJ conducted a proper legal analysis, then the Court
must reverse the ALJ's decision. Cornelius v.
Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
SUMMARY OF THE ALJ'S DECISION
determine whether a claimant has proven that she is disabled,
an ALJ follows a five-step sequential evaluation process. The
(1) whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
(2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment or
combination of impairments;
(3) whether the impairment meets or equals the severity of
the specified impairments in the Listing of Impairments;
(4) based on a residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) assessment, whether the claimant can
perform any of his or her past relevant work despite the
(5) whether there are significant numbers of jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform given the
claimant's RFC, age, education, and work experience.
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178.
case, the ALJ found that Ms. Terry has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since October 4, 2011, the
alleged onset date. (Doc. 7-3, p. 27). The ALJ determined
that Ms. Terry suffers from the following severe impairments:
reconstructive surgery of a weight bearing joint; disorders
of muscle, ligaments and fascia; fibromyalgia; degenerative
disc disease; carpal tunnel syndrome; peripheral neuropathy;
anxiety disorder; post-traumatic stress disorder; and
affective disorders. (Doc. 7-3, p. 27). Based on a review of
the medical evidence, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Terry does
not have an impairment or ...