United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Northern Division
F. BIVINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Betty Bouler (hereinafter “Plaintiff”), seeks
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security denying her claim for supplemental security
income under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381, et seq. On May 10, 2018, the
parties consented to have the undersigned conduct any and all
proceedings in this case. (Doc. 25). 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.
Procedural History 
filed her application for benefits on April 25, 2014. (Doc.
11 at 238). Plaintiff alleges that she has been disabled
since June 1, 2009, due to back problems/bad discs, swollen
feet, numbness in hands, pain, high blood pressure, skin
disease, nerves, depression, and problems with left eye.
(Id. at 251, 255).
application was denied and upon timely request, she was
granted an administrative hearing before Administrative Law
Judge Paul Johnson (hereinafter “ALJ”) on July
28, 2016. (Id. at 48). Plaintiff attended
the hearing with her counsel and provided testimony related
to her claims. (Id. at 55). A vocational expert
(“VE”) also appeared at the hearing and provided
testimony. (Id. at 72). On September 10, 2016, the
ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding that Plaintiff is
not disabled. (Id. at 14). The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review on July 18, 2017.
(Id. at 5). Therefore, the ALJ's decision dated
September 10, 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. 24). 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 substantial evidence supports the
assignment of little weight to the opinions of
Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Huey Kidd, D.O., and
the opinions of examining psychiatrist, Dr. David Hodo,
2. Whether the ALJ erred in considering evidence that
is not in the record?
was born on February 4, 1967, and was forty-nine years of age
at the time of her administrative hearing on July 28, 2016.
(Doc. 11 at 48, 251). Plaintiff completed the tenth grade in
school and one semester of eleventh grade. While in the tenth
and eleventh grades, Plaintiff was assigned to special
education classes. (Id. at 66, 292).
last worked in 2009 for two months as a packer on a poultry
farm. (Id. at 55, 256). Prior to that, she had no
past relevant work. (Id. at 56).
hearing, Plaintiff testified that she can no longer work due
to depression after the death of her son in 2014.
(Id. at 56-57, 60, 68). Plaintiff further testified
that she has problems with carpal tunnel syndrome in her left
wrist, gout in her feet, diabetes, high blood pressure, low
back pain, stomach pain, trouble sleeping, and
glaucoma. (Id. at 60-62, 65-68). She takes
oral medication for diabetes, as well as medication to help
her sleep. She also uses eye drops for glaucoma.
(Id. at 60-62, 65, 68, 71). Some of Plaintiff's
medications make her drowsy. (Id. at 64). At the
administrative hearing, Plaintiff reported that she was
scheduled for gall bladder surgery. (Id. at 70).
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 Regulatory Framework
individual who applies for Social Security disability
benefits must prove his or her disability. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1512, 416.912. Disability is defined as the
“inability to engage in 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 12 months.” 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A); see also 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a). The Social Security
regulations provide a five-step sequential evaluation process
for determining if a claimant has proven his disability. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.
claimant must first prove that he or she has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity. The second step requires the
claimant to prove that he or she has a severe impairment or
combination of impairments. If, at the third step, the
claimant proves that the impairment or combination of
impairments meets or equals a listed impairment, then the
claimant is automatically found disabled regardless of age,
education, or work experience. If the claimant cannot prevail
at the third step, he or she must proceed to the fourth step
where the claimant must prove an inability to perform their
past relevant work. Jones v. Bowen, 810 F.2d 1001,
1005 (11th Cir. 1986). At the fourth step, the ALJ must make
an assessment of the claimant's RFC. See Phillips v.
Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1238 (llth Cir. ...