United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Northern Division
F. BIVINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Sherry Boler (hereinafter “Plaintiff”) seeks
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security denying her claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits under Title II of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et
seq. On May 10, 2018, the parties consented to have the
undersigned conduct any and all proceedings in this case.
(Doc. 23). Thus, the action was referred to the undersigned
to conduct all proceedings and order the entry of judgment in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 73. Upon careful consideration of the
administrative record and the memoranda of the parties, it is
hereby ORDERED that the decision of the
Commissioner be AFFIRMED.
filed her application for benefits on May 14, 2014. (Doc. 11
at 134). Plaintiff alleges that she has been disabled since
February 1, 2013, due to “osteoarthritis, right foot,
right hip, ” and high blood pressure. (Id. at
application was denied and upon timely request, she was
granted an administrative hearing before Administrative Law
Judge Mary E. Helmer (hereinafter “ALJ”) on March
10, 2016. (Id. at 37). Plaintiff attended the
hearing with her counsel and provided testimony related to
her claims. (Id. at 40). A vocational expert
(“VE”) also appeared at the hearing and provided
testimony. (Id. at 50). On April 1, 2016, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision finding that Plaintiff is not
disabled. (Id. at 23). The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review on April 7, 2017.
(Id. at 1-2). Therefore, the ALJ's decision
dated April 1, 2016, became the final decision of the
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff timely filed
the present civil action. (Doc. 1). The parties waived oral
argument on May 10, 2018. (Doc. 22). This case is now ripe
for judicial review and is properly before this Court
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3).
Issues on Appeal 1. Whether the
Appeals Council erred in failing to remand Plaintiff's
case for consideration of additional evidence submitted after
the ALJ's decision?
Whether the ALJ erred in assigning great weight to the
opinion of State Agency reviewer, Dr. Maria Wellman,
Whether the ALJ erred in finding Plaintiff's
hypertension, diabetes, and osteoarthritis to be
was born on February 16, 1959, and was fifty-six years of age
at the time of her administrative hearing on March 10, 2016.
(Doc. 11 at 37, 141). Plaintiff graduated from high school
and attended college for one year. (Id. at 145).
last worked from 2011 to 2012 at a convenience
store/restaurant as a cashier/cook. (Id. at 41,
145). The job ended when the owner went out of business, and
she has not applied for another job since that time.
(Id. at 41). Prior to that, Plaintiff worked from
2003 to 2009 at a convenience store and gas station as a
cashier/cook. (Id. at 145).
hearing, Plaintiff testified that she can no longer work due
to pain from osteoarthritis in her hips and joints.
(Id. at 42). Her medical treatment for
osteoarthritis has consisted of taking medications, such as
Aleve, Lortab, and Meloxicam, and steroid injections.
(Id. at 119-21, 146, 223). She also has diabetes,
for which she takes insulin, and high blood pressure, for
which she takes Lisinopril. (Id. at 42).
Standard of Review
reviewing claims brought under the Act, this Court's role
is a limited one. The Court's review is limited to
determining 1) whether the decision of the Secretary is
supported by substantial evidence and 2) whether the correct
legal standards were applied.Martin v. Sullivan, 894
F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). A court may not decide the
facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute its judgment
for that of the Commissioner. Sewell v. Bowen, 792
F.2d 1065, 1067 (11th Cir. 1986). The Commissioner's
findings of fact must be affirmed if they are based upon
substantial evidence. Brown v. Sullivan, 921 F.2d
1233, 1235 (11th Cir. 1991); Bloodsworth v. Heckler,
703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983) (holding substantial
evidence is defined as “more than a scintilla, but less
than a preponderance” and consists of “such
relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.”). In determining
whether substantial evidence exists, a court must view the
record as a whole, taking into account evidence favorable, as
well as unfavorable, to the Commissioner's decision.
Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir.
1986); Short v. Apfel, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10163,
*4 (S.D. Ala. June 14, 1999).
Statutory and ...