United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MONIKA P. KATER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
WALLACE CAPEL, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Pastula Kater (“Plaintiff”) filed an application
for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits
on April 28, 2013, alleging disability beginning on March 28,
2013. The application was denied at the initial
administrative level. Plaintiff then requested and received a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision, and the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. The ALJ's decision
consequently became the final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner”). See Chester
v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). The case
is now before the court for review of that decision under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
both parties have consented to the conduct of all proceedings
and entry of a final judgment by the undersigned United
States Magistrate Judge. Pl.'s Consent to Jurisdiction
(Doc. 16); Def.'s Consent to Jurisdiction (Doc. 15).
Based on the court's review of the record and the briefs
of the parties, the court AFFIRMS the decision of the
STANDARD OF REVIEW
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A), a person is entitled to
benefits when the person is unable 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
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
this determination, the Commissioner employs a five-step,
sequential evaluation process. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920 (2011).
(1) Is the person presently unemployed?
(2) Is the person's impairment severe?
(3) Does the person's impairment meet or equal one of the
specific impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt.
P, App. 1 [the Listing of Impairments]?
(4) Is the person unable to perform his or her former
(5) Is the person unable to perform any other work within the
economy? An affirmative answer to any of the above questions
leads either to the next question, or, on steps three and
five, to a finding of disability. A negative answer to any
question, other than step three, leads to a determination of
McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th Cir.
burden of proof rests on a claimant through Step Four.
See Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1237-39
(11th Cir. 2004). A claimant establishes a prima
facie case of qualifying disability once they have
carried the burden of proof from Step One through Step Four.
At Step Five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner, who must
then show there are a significant number of jobs in the
national economy the claimant can perform. Id.
perform the fourth and fifth steps, the ALJ must determine
the claimant's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). Id. at 1238-39. The RFC is what
the claimant is still able to do despite the claimant's
impairments and is based on all relevant medical and other
evidence. Id. It may contain both exertional and
nonexertional limitations. Id. at 1242-43. At the
fifth step, the ALJ considers the claimant's RFC, age,
education, and work experience to determine if there are jobs
available in the national economy the claimant can perform.
Id. at 1239. To do this, the ALJ can either use ...