United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
E. Ott Chief United States Magistrate Judge.
Karla Wilson brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking review of the final decision of the Acting
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
denying her Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”). (Doc. 1).The case has been assigned to the
undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to this
court's general order of reference. The parties have
consented to the jurisdiction of this court for disposition
of the matter. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
Fed.R.Civ.P. 73(a). Upon review of the record and the
relevant law, the undersigned finds that the
Commissioner's decision is due to be affirmed.
filed her application for DIB in December 2013, alleging
disability beginning July 2, 2012. It was initially denied by
an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). The Appeals
Council (“AC”) denied Plaintiff's request for
review. (R. 1).
was 47 years old at the time of the ALJ's decision. (R.
39). She has completed the sixth grade. She previously worked
as a mail carrier, appointment clerk, medical record clerk,
and cashier. (R. 23, 191). She alleges disability due to
chronic back and leg pain as well as major anxiety and
depression. (R. 84).
Plaintiff's hearing, the ALJ found that she had the
medically determinable severe impairments of migraine
headaches; cervical disc degeneration; anxiety disorder, not
otherwise specified (“NOS”); and depression, NOS.
(R. 15). He also found that Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled
the severity of a listed impairment. (R. 16). He further
found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work with limitations.
(R. 15). He determined that Plaintiff could not perform her
past relevant work but could perform the requirements of
representative occupations such as Marker, Router, or
Electrical assembler. (R. 23-24). The ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was not disabled. (R. 24).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court's review of the Commissioner's decision is
narrowly circumscribed. The function of the court is to
determine whether the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence and whether proper legal
standards were applied. Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 390, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1422 (1971); Mitchell v.
Comm'r Soc. Sec., 771 F.3d 780, 782 (11th Cir. 2015;
Wilson v. Barnhart, 284 F.3d 1219, 1221 (11th Cir.
2002). The 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).
Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. It is “more than a
scintilla, but less than a preponderance.” Id.
court must uphold factual findings that are supported by
substantial evidence. However, it reviews the ALJ's legal
conclusions 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, it must reverse the ALJ's decision.
See Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46
(11th Cir. 1991). The court must affirm the ALJ's
decision if substantial evidence supports it, even if other
evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
findings. See Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting Martin v.
Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir.1990)).
STATUTORY AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
qualify for benefits a claimant must show 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. § 1382c(a)(3)(A).
A physical or mental impairment is “an impairment that
results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological
abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically acceptable
clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” 42
U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(D).
of disability under the Social Security Act requires a five
step analysis. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4). Specifically,
the Commissioner must determine in sequence:
whether the claimant: (1) is unable to engage in substantial
gainful activity; (2) has a severe medically determinable
physical or mental impairment; (3) has such an impairment
that meets or equals a Listing and meets the duration
requirements; (4) can perform his past relevant work, in
light of his residual functional capacity; and (5) can make
an adjustment to other work, in light of his residual
functional capacity, age, education, and work experience.
Evans v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 551 Fed.Appx. 521,
524 (11th Cir. 2014). The plaintiff bears the burden of proving
that he was disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act. Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1211
(11th Cir. 2005); seealso 20 C.F.R. §
404.704. The applicable “regulations place a very heavy
burden on the claimant to demonstrate both a ...