United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sherelle Heard Mostella appeals the decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security denying her claims for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income. Based on the court's review
of the administrative record and the parties' briefs, the
court affirms the Commissioner's decision.
Mostella applied for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income on
December 19, 2013. (R. 134, 136). Ms. Mostella alleged that
her disability began on April 1, 2013. (R. 134, 136). The
Commissioner initially denied Ms. Mostella's claims on
May 12, 2014. (R. 138-147). Ms. Mostella requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (R. 152). After
holding a hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
February 25, 2016. (R. 76-93). On March 24, 2017, the Appeals
Council declined Ms. Mostella'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
§§ 405(g); 1383(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 Ms. Mostella has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since April 1, 2013, the alleged
onset date. (R. 78). The ALJ found that Ms. Mostella has the
following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease,
asthma, narcolepsy, bursitis, depression, history of rotator
cuff repair, and osteoarthritis. (R. 78). The ALJ determined
that Ms. Mostella has the following non-severe impairments:
irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and COPD. (R. 84). The ALJ
then concluded that Ms. Mostella 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.
considering the evidence of record, the ALJ determined that
Ms. Mostella has the RFC to perform:
light, unskilled work not requiring complex instructions or
procedures as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)
with no climbing of ropes, ladders, or scaffolds; no work at
unprotected heights or with hazardous machinery; no operating
of motor vehicles; no more than occasional overhead reaching
with the right upper extremity; no more than occasional
stooping, crouching, or crawling; no concentrated exposure to
dust, fumes, or other respiratory irritants; no more than
frequent interaction with co-workers and supervisors; no more
than occasional contact with the ...