Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Moorer v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 10, 2018

PRESTON T. MOORER, II, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          SONJA F. BIVINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Preston T. Moorer, II (hereinafter “Plaintiff”), seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his claim for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq., and 1381, et seq. On April 11, 2018, the parties consented to have the undersigned conduct any and all proceedings in this case. (Doc. 17). 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.

         I. Procedural History[1]

         Plaintiff filed his application for benefits on August 21, 2014, alleging disability beginning March 16, 2014, based on “severe right ankle problems, plates and screws in right ankle, and fracture[d] neck.” (Doc. 11 at 147, 154, 178, 182). Plaintiff's application was denied and upon timely request, he was granted an administrative hearing before Administrative Law Judge L. Dawn Pischek (hereinafter “ALJ”) on February 16, 2016. (Id. at 40). Plaintiff attended the hearing with his counsel and provided testimony related to his claims. (Id.). A vocational expert (“VE”) also appeared at the hearing and provided testimony. (Id. at 60). On May 26, 2016, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding that Plaintiff is not disabled. (Id. at 24). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on April 18, 2017. (Id. at 5). Therefore, the ALJ's decision dated May 26, 2016, became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Having exhausted his administrative remedies, Plaintiff timely filed the present civil action. (Doc. 1). Oral argument was conducted on May 29, 2018. (Doc. 22). 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).

         II. Issue on Appeal

         Whether the ALJ erred in assessing Plaintiff's complex regional pain syndrome (“CRPS”)?

         III. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was born on February 23, 1979, and was thirty-seven years of age at the time of his administrative hearing on February 16, 2016. (Doc. 11 at 40, 178). Plaintiff graduated from high school and attended junior college for one year. (Id. at 46, 374).

         Plaintiff last worked as a machine operator for a lumber company from 2008 to 2009, and for a paper company from 2012 to 2014. (Id. at 59, 191-94). Plaintiff testified that he has not worked since he was involved in a motor vehicle accident in March of 2014. According to Plaintiff, he broke his ankle in the accident and required multiple surgeries. (Id. at 46, 374). Plaintiff testified that he now walks with a boot when he goes out, but he does not wear the boot around the house. (Id. at 47). Plaintiff also testified that he can no longer work due to pain in his ankle, that his treating physician no longer gives him pain medication, and that sometimes, he takes over-the-counter pain medication. (Id. at 40-56). Plaintiff further testified that he can walk for about forty minutes before he has to sit down. (Id. at 55). According to Plaintiff, once he sits down, his pain is about a two or three on a ten-point pain scale. (Id. at 54). Plaintiff further testified that pain medication and elevating his leg helps the pain. (Id. at 53, 58).

         IV. Standard of Review

         In 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.[2]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).

         V. Statutory and Regulatory Framework

         An 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.

         The 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 (11th Cir. 2004). The RFC is an assessment, based on all relevant medical and other evidence, of a claimant's remaining ability to work despite his impairment. See Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1440 (llth Cir. 1997).

         If a claimant meets his or her burden at the fourth step, it then becomes the Commissioner's burden to prove at the fifth step that the claimant is capable of engaging in another kind of substantial gainful employment which exists in significant numbers in the national economy, given the claimant's residual functional capacity, age, education, and work history. Sryock v. Heckler, 764 F.2d 834, 836 (11th Cir. 1985). If the Commissioner can demonstrate that there are such jobs the claimant can perform, the claimant must prove inability to perform those jobs in order to be found disabled. Jones v. Apfel, 190 F.3d 1224, 1228 (11th Cir. 1999). See also Hale v. Bowen, 831 F.2d 1007, 1011 (11th Cir. 1987) (citing Francis v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 1562, 1564 (11th Cir. 1985)).

         VI. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.