United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff Amy Brannon Rogers
seeks judicial review of a final adverse decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security. The Commissioner denied Ms.
Rogers's claims for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits. After careful review, the Court affirms
the Commissioner's decision.
Rogers applied for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits on July 29, 2013. (Doc. 9-4, p. 30). Ms.
Rogers alleges that her disability began on November 19,
2011. (Doc. 9-4, p. 30). The Commissioner initially denied
Ms. Rogers's claim on October 11, 2013. (Doc. 9-5, pp.
2-7). Ms. Rogers requested a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ). (Doc. 9-5, p. 8). The ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on March 26, 2015. (Doc. 9-3, pp. 9-24).
On September 8, 2016, the Appeals Council declined Ms.
Rogers's request for review (Doc. 9-3, p. 2), making the
Commissioner's decision final and a proper candidate for
this Court's judicial review. See 42 U.S.C.
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. Rogers has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since November 19, 2011, the
alleged onset date. (Doc. 9-3, p. 14). The ALJ determined
that Ms. Rogers suffers from the following severe
impairments: left sciatic joint dysfunction, status post
lumbar fusion L4-5 and L5-S1, lumbar degenerative disc
disease, and obesity. (Doc. 9-3, p. 14). The ALJ found that
Ms. Rogers has the following non-severe impairments:
hypertension, hyperlipidemia, mild right carpel tunnel
syndrome, depression, and anxiety. (Doc. 9-3, p. 15). Based
on a review of the medical evidence, the ALJ concluded that
Ms. Rogers 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. 9-3, p. 17).
light of Ms. Rogers's impairments, the ALJ evaluated Ms.
Rogers's residual functional capacity or RFC. The ALJ
determined that Ms. Rogers has the RFC to perform:
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except the
claimant could lift and carry up to 20 pounds occasionally
and 10 pounds frequently. She could sit, stand and/or walk
for up to 6 hours each in an 8-hour workday with normal
breaks. She could occasionally climb ramps and stairs, but
never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She could
occasionally perform work activity requiring balancing,
stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling.
(Doc. 9-3, p. 18).
on this RFC, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Rogers is not able to
perform her past relevant work as a home attendant. (Doc.
9-3, p. 22). Relying on testimony from a vocational expert,
the ALJ found that jobs exist in the national economy that
Ms. Rogers can perform, including an inspector, sorter, and
bander. (Doc. 9-3, p. 23). Accordingly, the ALJ determined
that Ms. Rogers has not been under a disability within the
meaning of the Social Security Act. (Doc. 9-3, p. 24).
Rogers argues that she is entitled to relief from the
ALJ's decision because the ALJ failed to properly
consider the opinion of treating physician Dr. Franklin
Calame Sammons and because the ALJ failed to consider her
(Ms. Rogers's) work history in ...