United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
JEMITA J. BROOKS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
RUSS WALKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Jemita A. Brooks commenced this action on February 16, 2016,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review
of a final adverse decision of the Commissioner denying her
application for disability, disability insurance benefits,
and Supplemental Security Income. See Doc. 1; Doc.
14; R. 24. Plaintiff alleged disability as of June 5, 2012
due to “[l]upus, joint pain, back problems, skin
problems, kidney [problems]” and “high blood
pressure.” R 219. On July 11, 2014, Administrative Law
Judge Renita Barnett-Jefferson (the ALJ) issued an adverse
decision. See R. 24-30. The Appeals
Council denied plaintiff's request for review, and the
ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner. See Id. at 1-3.
instant appeal, the plaintiff requests that the court remand
this cause to the Commissioner under sentence four of §
405(g). See Doc. 14. This case is ripe for review
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). The
parties have consented to entry of final judgment by the
Magistrate Judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
See Doc. 11, 12. For the reasons stated herein, and
based upon its review of the record, the court finds that the
Commissioner's decision is due to be remanded.
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. A reviewing court
“may not decide facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or
substitute [its] decision for that of the
[Commissioner].” Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d
1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005). In other words, this court is
prohibited from reviewing the Commissioner's findings of
fact de novo, even where a preponderance of the
evidence supports alternative conclusions.
the court must uphold factual findings that are supported by
substantial evidence, 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 that the proper legal analysis has
been conducted, it must reverse the ALJ's decision.
Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th
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 an entitlement to disability benefits, a claimant
must provide evidence about a “physical or mental
impairment” that “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
the national economy.
v. Shalala, 998 F.2d 473, 477 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing to
a formerly applicable C.F.R. section), overruled on other
grounds by Johnson v. Apfel, 189 F.3d 561, 562-63 (7th
Cir. 1999); accord McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026,