United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
LINDA SHAKEEL, as wife of Raasheem Khalfani Aarif Shakeel, the deceased wage earner, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Linda Shakeel brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) on behalf of her now-deceased husband, Raasheem
Khalfani Aarif Shakeel (“Shakeel”). Linda Shakeel
seeks a review of a final adverse decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”), who denied her husband's
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”). Mr. and Ms. Shakeel exhausted the
administrative remedies available before the Commissioner.
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
REVERSES and REMANDS the
alleged onset date is September 7, 2012. (Tr. 12). Mr.
Shakeel suffered from the severe impairments of
“cervical degenerative disc disease and coronary artery
disease.” (Id. at 14) (emphasis omitted). On
June 14, 2013, Mr. Shakeel filed an application for Social
Security benefits. (Id. at 12). The Social Security
Administration denied that application on September 10, 2013.
(Id.). Unfortunately, Mr. Shakeel passed away on
September 18, 2013. (Id.). On January 26, 2015,
Administrative Law Judge Cynthia G. Weaver held a hearing.
(Id. at 12, 21). The ALJ issued her decision on
August 21, 2015, which was unfavorable to Ms. Shakeel.
(Id. at 21). In that opinion, the ALJ found that Mr.
Shakeel did not meet the disability standard at Steps Three
and Five. (Id. at 15, 20). Ms. Shakeel requested the
Appeals Council review the claim. (Id. at 1-3). They
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