United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Timothy Brian Elkins appeals the decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security denying his claim for a period of
disability and disability insurance benefits. Based on the
court's review of the administrative record and the
parties' briefs, the court affirms the Commissioner's
Elkins applied for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits on February 18, 2014. (R. 19; 66). Mr.
Elkins alleges that his disability began on September 27,
2012. (R. 19; 66). The Commissioner initially denied Mr.
Elkins's claim on April 18, 2014. (R. 79). Mr. Elkins
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
(R. 87). After holding a hearing, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on February 9, 2016. (R. 27). On
February 17, 2017, the Appeals Council declined Mr.
Elkins's request for review (R. 1), making the
Commissioner's decision final and ripe for the
court's judicial review. See 42 U.S.C §
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court's role in reviewing claims brought under the Social
Security Act is a narrow one. The court “must determine
whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence and based on proper legal
standards.” Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). “Under the
substantial evidence standard, this court will affirm the
ALJ's decision if there exists ‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Henry v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 802 F.3d 1264, 1267 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178). The court may not
“decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, ”
or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178 (internal quotations and
citation omitted). The court must affirm “[e]ven if the
evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
findings.” Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158-59 (11th Cir.2004) (per
curiam) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
the deferential standard for review of claims, the court must
“‘scrutinize the record as a whole to determine
if the decision reached is reasonable and supported by
substantial evidence.'” Henry, 802 F.3d at
1267 (quoting MacGregor v. Bowen, 786 F.2d 1050,
1053 (11th Cir. 1986)). Moreover, the court must reverse the
Commissioner's decision if the ALJ does not apply the
correct legal standards. Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936
F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
determine whether an individual is disabled, an ALJ follows a
five-step sequential evaluation process. The ALJ considers:
(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.
the ALJ determined that Mr. Elkins has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since September 27, 2012, the
alleged onset date. (R. 21). The ALJ found that Mr. Elkins
has the following severe impairments: tenosynovitis and
degenerative disc disease. (R. 21). The ALJ then concluded
that Mr. Elkins does not suffer from an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R.
§ 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (R. 23).
considering the evidence of record, the ALJ determined that
Mr. Elkins has the RFC to perform:
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except:
occasionally lift 20 pounds and 10 pounds frequently; sit at
least 6 hours during an 8hour workday; stand and walk at
least 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; frequently lift overhead
on the left and right sides; frequently handle on the right
and left; frequently feel on the right and left; and
frequently finger on the right and left.
(R. 23). Based on this RFC, the ALJ found that Mr. Elkins
cannot perform his past relevant work as a seat assembler,
machine tender, or hand packager. (R. 25).
on testimony from a vocational expert, the ALJ concluded that
jobs exist in the national economy that Mr. Elkins can
perform, including garment sorter, housekeeper, and cashier.
(R. 26). Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Mr. Elkins has
not been under a disability as defined in the Social Security
Act, since September 27, 2012 through the date of the
decision. (R. 27).