United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
LARRY M. TEAT, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Larry M. Teat (“Teat”) 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
his application for a period of disability, disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”), and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”). (Doc. 1). Teat timely
pursued and exhausted his administrative remedies. This case
is therefore ripe for review under 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g), 1383(c)(3). The undersigned has carefully considered
the record and, for the reasons stated below, the
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
Factual and Procedural History
filed his application for a period of disability, DIB, and
SSI on December 11, 2012, alleging he was disabled beginning
May 1, 2012. (Tr. 83-84, 175-76). The agency denied
Teat's application, (tr. 125-29), and Teat requested a
hearing, (tr. 131-32). An ALJ held a hearing on August 20,
2014. (Tr. 46-82). On November 24, 2014, the ALJ issued a
decision finding Teat not disabled. (Tr. 18-41). Teat sought
review by the Appeals Council, but it declined his request on
May 14, 2016. (Tr. 1-5). On that date, the ALJ's decision
became the final decision of the Commissioner. On June 28,
2016, Teat initiated this action. (See doc. 1).
was fifty-three-years-old on his alleged onset date, and
fifty-five-years-old on the date of the ALJ's decision.
(Tr. 41, 175). He completed the fifth grade, (tr. 198), and
has past relevant work experience as a drill press operator
and a small engine mechanic, (tr. 197). Teat alleges he is
unable to work due to back, neck, and leg problems. (Tr.
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 (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 supported by substantial
evidence. “Substantial evidence may even exist contrary
to the findings of the ALJ, and [the reviewing court] may
have taken a different view of it as a factfinder. Yet, if
there is substantially supportive evidence, the findings
cannot be overturned.” Barron v. Sullivan, 924
F.2d 227, 230 (11th Cir. 1991). However, the Court 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 Cir. 1991).
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 ...