United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
David Wade Burford (“Burford”) seeks review,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), § 205(g) of the
Social Security Act, of a final decision of the Commissioner
of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”), denying his application for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”). (Doc. 1). Burford timely pursued and
exhausted his administrative remedies. This case is therefore
ripe for review under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3). The undersigned has carefully considered the
record and, for the reasons stated below, the
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
Factual and Procedural History
filed his application for a period of disability and DIB
October 4, 2013, alleging he became unable to work beginning
that day. (Tr. 23, 151). After the Agency initially denied
his application, Burford requested a hearing where he
appeared on March 15, 2015. (Tr. 46-70). After the hearing,
the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied
Burford's claim on December 4, 2015. (Tr. 20-43). Burford
sought review by the Appeals Council, but it declined his
request on October 26, 2016. (Tr. 1-6). On that date, the
ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner. On December 27, 2016, Burford initiated this
action. (See doc. 1).
was thirty-three-years-old on the alleged disability onset
date (October 4, 2013) and has a high school education. (Tr.
38). Burford reported he previously worked as a general
cleaner, retail stocker, caregiver, industrial cleaner, and
carpet cleaner. (Tr. 65, 186, 220). After the alleged onset
date, Burford continued to work part-time through the second
quarter of 2015. (Tr. 160).
Standard of Review
court's review of the Commissioner's decision is
narrowly circumscribed. The function of this Court is to
determine whether the decision of the Commissioner is
supported by substantial evidence and whether proper legal
standards were applied. Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 390 (1971); Wilson v. Barnhart, 284 F.3d
1219, 1221 (11th Cir. 2002). This 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 supported by substantial
evidence. “Substantial evidence may even exist contrary
to the findings of the ALJ, and [the reviewing court] may
have taken a different view of it as a factfinder. Yet, if
there is substantially supportive evidence, the findings
cannot be overturned.” Barron v. Sullivan, 924
F.2d 227, 230 (11th Cir. 1991). However, the Court 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 the proper
legal analysis has been conducted, it must reverse the
ALJ's decision. Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d
1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
Statutory and Regulatory Framework
qualify for disability benefits and establish his or her
entitlement for a period of disability, a claimant must be
disabled as defined by the Social Security Act and the
Regulations promulgated thereunder. The Regulations define
“disabled” as “the inability to do 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
twelve (12) months.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a). To
establish entitlement to disability benefits, a claimant must
provide evidence of a “physical or mental
impairment” which “must result from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which can be
shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1508.
Regulations provide a five-step process for determining
whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(i-v). The Commissioner must determine in
(1) whether the claimant is currently employed;
(2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment;
(3) whether the claimant's impairment meets or equals an
impairment listed by the [Commissioner];
(4) whether the claimant can perform his or her past work;
(5) whether the claimant is capable of performing any work in
the national economy.
Pope v. Shalala, 998 F.2d 473, 477 (7th Cir. 1993)
(citing to the formerly applicable C.F.R. section),
overruled on other grounds by Johnson v. Apfel, 189
F.3d 561, 562-63 (7th Cir. 1999); accord McDaniel v.
Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th Cir. 1986). “Once
the claimant has satisfied steps One and Two, she will
automatically be found disabled if she suffers from a listed
impairment. If the claimant does not have a listed impairment
but cannot perform her work, the burden shifts to the
[Commissioner] to show that the claimant can perform some
other job.” Pope, 998 F.2d at 477; accord
Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d 1553, 1559 (11th Cir. 1995).
The Commissioner must further show such work exists in the
national economy in significant numbers. Id.
Findings of the Administrative Law Judge
consideration of the entire record and application of the
sequential evaluation process, the ALJ made the following
At Step One, the ALJ found Burford meets the insured status
requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31,
2019, and that Burford had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since his alleged onset date of October 4, 2013.
(Tr. 25). At Step Two, the ALJ found Burford has the
following severe impairments: major depressive disorder,
generalized anxiety disorder, borderline intellectual
functioning, adjustment disorder, degenerative disc disease
of the lumbar spine status post discectomy, DiGeorge
Syndrome, and obesity. (Id.). At Step Three, the ALJ
found Burford did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined Burford's
residual functioning capacity (“RFC”), which is
the most a claimant can do despite his impairments.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545(a)(1). The ALJ
determined that Burford had the RFC to perform sedentary work
as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a), except he can
only occasionally climb ramps or stairs, and ladders, ropes
or scaffolds. (Tr. 29). The ALJ further limited Burford to
occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and
crawling and to no more than simple, unskilled work,
requiring understanding and carrying out of no more than
simple instructions, with occasional decision-making and
Four, the ALJ determined Burford is unable to perform any
past relevant work. (Tr. 37). At Step Five, the ALJ
determined, based on Burford's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, jobs exist in significant numbers in the
national economy Burford could perform. (Tr. 38-39).