United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c), plaintiff
Lucille Harris seeks judicial review of a final adverse
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. The
Commissioner denied Ms. Harris's claim for a period of
disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental
security income. After careful review, the Court remands the
Harris applied for a period of disability, disability
insurance benefits, and supplemental security income on March
24, 2014. (Doc. 6-6, pp. 2-14). Ms. Harris alleges that her
disability began on February 1, 2014. (Doc. 6-6, pp. 2, 9).
The Commissioner initially denied Ms. Harris's claims on
May 30, 2014. (Doc. 6-5, pp. 4, 9). Ms. Harris requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (Doc. 6-5,
pp. 16-18). The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
December 28, 2015. (Doc. 6-3, pp. 14-26). On April 28, 2016,
the Appeals Council declined Ms. Harris's request for
review (Doc. 6-3, p. 2), making the Commissioner's
decision final and a proper candidate for this Court's
judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and
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
gainful activity; (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 impairment; and (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. Harris has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since February 1, 2014, the
alleged onset date. (Doc. 6-3, p. 19). The ALJ determined
that Ms. Harris suffers from the following severe
impairments: asthma, pain in the shoulders, and
diverticulitis. (Doc. 6-3, p. 19). Based on a review of the
medical evidence, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Harris does not
have an impairment or a combination of impairments that meets
or medically equals the severity of any of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
(Doc. 6-3, p. 19).
light of Ms. Harris's impairments, the ALJ evaluated Ms.
Harris's residual functional capacity or RFC. The ALJ