United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Joshua Scott Kelley (“Kelley”) brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Kelley seeks a review of a
final adverse decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (“Commissioner”), who
denied his application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”). Kelley filed his application on October
24, 2011. The ALJ issued his first decision on August 13,
2013. (Tr. 13). However, upon review, the Appeals Council
vacated the first decision and remanded the case.
(Id.). The second decision, which is the one before
this Court, was issued on November 9, 2015. (Tr. 37). This
decision was also unfavorable to Kelley. After that, Kelley
pursued and exhausted the administrative remedies available
before the Commissioner. Kelley filed his Complaint in the
Northern District of Alabama on November 6, 2016. (Doc. 1).
Kelley filed his brief in support of his position on July 25,
2017. (Doc. 12). The Commissioner responded on September 25,
2017. (Doc. 15). This case is now ripe for judicial review
under section 205(g) of the Social Security Act (the
“Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Court carefully reviewed the record in this case and
AFFIRMS the ALJ's decision.
alleged onset date is October 6, 2011. (Tr. 13). Kelley
suffers from “cervical and lumbar degenerative disc
disease, history of cervical stenosis, seizure disorder, and
unspecified drug dependence.” (Id. at 16)
(emphasis omitted). He filed his application on October 24,
2011. On August 27, 2015, Administrative Law Judge Ronald
Reeves held a hearing. (Id. at 43-73). The ALJ
issued his decision on November 9, 2015, which was
unfavorable to Kelley. (Id. at 13-37). In that
opinion, the ALJ found that Kelley could perform “jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy.” (Id. at 36) (emphasis omitted).
Kelley requested that the Appeals Council review his claim.
(Id. at 3-5). They refused. (Id.).
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). This court will determine that
the ALJ's opinion is supported by substantial evidence if
it finds “such relevant evidence as a reasonable person
would accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Id. Substantial evidence is “more than a
scintilla, but less than a preponderance.” Id.
Factual findings that are supported by substantial evidence
must be upheld by the court.
ALJ's legal conclusions, however, are reviewed 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, the ALJ's
decision must be reversed. 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 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.
Pope v. Shalala, 998 F.2d 473, 477 (7th Cir. 1993)
(citing to 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, 1030 (11th Cir. 1986).
sequential analysis goes as follows:
Once the claimant has satisfied steps One and Two, she will
automatically be found disabled if she suffers from a listed
impairment. If the claimant does not have a listed impairment
but cannot perform her work, the burden shifts to the
[Commissioner] to show that the claimant can perform some
Pope, 998 F.2d at 477; accord Foote v.
Chater, 67 F.3d 1553, 1559 (11th Cir. 1995). The
Commissioner must further show that such work exists in the
national economy in significant numbers. Id.
Finding of the Administrative Law Judge
considering the record, the ALJ made the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through June 30, 2016 (Exhibit 7D).
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since October 6, 2011, the alleged onset date of
disability (20 ...