United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northwestern Division
GINA C. JONES, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Gina C. Jones ("Jones") seeks review, pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), § 205(g) of the Social Security
Act, of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration ("Commissioner"), denying
her application for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental
security income ("SSI"). (Doc. 1). Jones timely
pursued and exhausted her administrative remedies. This case
is therefore ripe for review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
The undersigned has carefully considered the record and, for
the reasons stated below, the Commissioner's decision is
Factual and Procedural History
protectively filed an application for SSI on June 12, 2013,
alleging disability beginning on her filing date. (Tr. 22,
239-240). Jones was a forty-seven year old female on the date
she filed her application. (Tr. 39). Jones has a high school
education. (Id.). The Commissioner initially denied
Jones application, (tr. 140-43), and Jones requested a
hearing before an ALJ, (tr. 145-147). After a hearing, the
ALJ denied Jones's claim on September 12, 2014. (Tr. 41).
Jones sought review by the Appeals Council, but it declined
her request on March 16, 2016. (Tr. 1-7). On that date, the
ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner. On April 26, 2016, Jones initiated this action.
(See doc. 1).
Standard of Review
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, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1422 (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.
Court must uphold factual findings that are supported by
substantial evidence. However, 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 the proper legal analysis has been
conducted, it must reverse the ALJ's decision.
Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46(11th
Statutory and Regulatory Framework
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 entitlement to disability benefits, a claimant must
provide evidence of a "physical or mental
impairment" which "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