United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
JOHNNY A. REED, Plaintiff,
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
F. BIVINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Johnny A. Reed (hereinafter “Plaintiff”), seeks
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security denying his claim for a period of disability,
disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security
income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq., and 1381, et
seq. On May 25, 2017, the parties consented to have the
undersigned conduct any and all proceedings in this case.
(Doc. 19). 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 AFFIRMED.
protectively filed his application for benefits on October 1,
2012, alleging disability beginning April 30, 2011 based on
diabetes, problems with legs, back problems, problems with
right ankle, no sight in right eye, problems with left eye,
and high blood pressure. (Tr. 133, 171, 183). Plaintiff's
application was denied and upon timely request, he was
granted an administrative hearing before Administrative Law
Judge James Barter on February 10, 2014. (Tr. 34). Plaintiff
attended the hearing with his counsel and provided testimony
related to his claims. (Id.). A vocational expert
(“VE”) also appeared at the hearing and provided
testimony. (Tr. 54). On July 25, 2014, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision finding that Plaintiff is not disabled.
(Tr. 30). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review on January 15, 2016. (Tr. 1). Therefore, the
ALJ's decision dated July 25, 2014, became the final
decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff timely filed
the present civil action. (Doc. 1). Oral argument was
conducted on June 1, 2017 (Doc. 21), and the parties 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 1383(c)(3).
Issues on Appeal
Whether substantial evidence supports the RFC for a range of
sedentary work with the stated restrictions?
Whether the ALJ fully considered the effect of
Plaintiff's obesity on his ability to work?
was born on August 22, 1968, and was forty-five years of age
at the time of his administrative hearing on February 10,
2014. (Tr. 34, 39, 171). Plaintiff graduated from high
school. (Tr. 39).
worked from 2003 to 2011 as a self-employed handyman and as a
sales person in a hardware store from 1986 to 2001. (Tr. 39,
184). At the administrative hearing, Plaintiff testified that
he cannot work now because he has problems with blindness in
his right eye (detached retina), low vision in his left eye,
diabetes for which he takes insulin, high blood pressure, leg
pain (neuropathy), and low back pain. (Tr. 42-47, 51).
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 view the
record as a whole, taking into account evidence favorable, as
well as unfavorable, to the Commissioner's decision.
Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir.
1986); Short v. Apfel, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10163,
*4 (S.D. Ala. June 14, 1999).
Statutory And Regulatory Framework
individual who applies for Social Security disability
benefits must prove his or her disability. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1512, 416.912. Disability is defined as 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 12 months.” 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A); see also 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a). The Social Security