United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MARY S. SPIVEY Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
CHARLES S. COODY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits pursuant
to Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401
et seq. and for supplemental security income
benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. § 1381 et seq., alleging that she was
unable to work because of a disability. Her application was
denied at the initial administrative level. The plaintiff
then requested and received a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Following the
hearing, the ALJ also denied the claim. The Appeals Council
rejected a subsequent request for review. The ALJ's
decision consequently became the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner). See Chester
v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986).
The case is now before the court for review pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 405 (g) and 1383(c)(3). Based on the
court's review of the record in this case and the briefs
of the parties, the court concludes that the decision of the
Commissioner should be affirmed.
Standard of Review
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A), a person is entitled to
disability benefits when the person is unable 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
this determination the Commissioner employs a five step,
sequential evaluation process. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920.
(1) Is the person presently unemployed?
(2) Is the person's impairment severe?
(3) Does the person's impairment meet or equal one of the
specific impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt.
P, App. 1?
(4) Is the person unable to perform his or her former
(5) Is the person unable to perform any other work within the
An affirmative answer to any of the above questions leads
either to the next question, or, on steps three and five, to
a finding of disability. A negative answer to any question,
other than step three, leads to a determination of "not
McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030
(11th Cir. 1986).
standard of review of the Commissioner's decision is a
limited one. This court must find the Commissioner's
decision conclusive if it is supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Ingram v. Comm'r
of Soc. Sec. Admin., 496 F.3d 1253, 1260
(11th Cir. 2007). "Substantial evidence is
more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance. It is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Crawford v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158-59
(11th Cir. 2004). A reviewing court may not look
only to those parts of the record which supports the decision
of the ALJ but instead must view the record in its entirety
and take account of evidence which detracts from the evidence
relied on by the ALJ. Hillsman v. Bowen, 804 F.2d
1179, 1180 (11th Cir. 1986). The court "may
not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or
substitute . . . [its] judgment for that of the
[Commissioner]." Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d
1232, 1240 n. 8 (11th Cir. 2004) (alteration in
original) (quotation marks omitted).
[The court must, however, ] . . . scrutinize the record in
its entirety to determine the reasonableness of the
[Commissioner's] . . . factual findings . . . No similar
presumption of validity attaches to the [Commissioner's]
. . . legal conclusions, including determination of the
proper standards to be applied in evaluating claims.
Walker v. Bowen, 826 F.2d 996, 999 (11th
plaintiff was 45 years old at the time of the hearing before
the ALJ and has a 12th grade education. (R. at
40-41) The plaintiff's prior work experience includes
work as a bookkeeper, receptionist and order clerk. (R. at
28) Following the administrative hearing, the ALJ concluded
that the plaintiff has impairments of degenerative disc
disease, degenerative joint disease (right knee and right
shoulder), peptic ulcer, obesity, hypertension, and
migraines. (R. at 21) Nonetheless, the ALJ concluded at Step
4 of the sequential evaluation process that the plaintiff was
not disabled because she has the residual functional capacity
to perform her prior sedentary work. (R. at 28)
The Plaintiff's Claims.
stated by the plaintiff, she present four claims for the
1. The Commissioner's decision should be reversed because
the ALJ erred by failing to properly reject Ms. Spivey's
testimony prior to issuing his unfavorable decision.
2. The Commissioner's decision should be reversed because
the ALJ failed to properly evaluate Ms. Spivey's Chronic
Pain Syndrome in accordance with Social Security Ruling
3. The Commissioner's decision should be reversed because
the ALJ failed to properly consider the side effects of Ms.
Spivey's prescribed ...