United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Roger Dale Bailey (“Bailey”) 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). Bailey 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
December 28, 2013, Bailey protectively filed a Title II
application for a period of disability and DIB, alleging he
became unable to work beginning August 22, 2013. (Tr.
164-65). The claim was denied initially on February 28, 2014.
(Tr. 105). Thereafter, Bailey filed a written request for
hearing on March 31, 2014. (Tr. 114-15). On August 11, 2015,
Bailey appeared from Gadsden, Alabama via video at a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in
Birmingham, Alabama. (Tr. 45-89). After the hearing, the ALJ
denied Bailey's claim on December 4, 2015. (Tr. 40).
Bailey sought review by the Appeals Council, but it declined
his request on February 8, 2017. (Tr. 1-7). On that date, the
ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner. On April 12, 2017, Bailey initiated this
action. (See doc. 1).
was forty-nine years old on the alleged disability onset
date. (Tr. 39). Bailey has at least a high school education
and previously worked as a Press Operator, Machinist,
Welder/Fitter, Coil Assembler, and Construction Equipment
Mechanic Helper. (Tr. 38-39).
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
One, the ALJ found Bailey meets the insured status
requirements of the Social Security Act through March 31,
2019, and that Bailey had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since August 22, 2013, the alleged onset date. (Tr.
30). At Step Two, the ALJ found Bailey has the following
severe impairments: cirrhosis of the liver with ascites,
hepatic encephalopathy, and obesity. (Id.). At Step
Three, the ALJ found Bailey 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. (Tr. 35).
proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined Bailey'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 Bailey had the RFC to perform light work as
defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b), with the following
non-exertional limitations: He can lift and/or carry twenty
pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; can stand
and/or walk six hours in an eight-hour day with a ten minute
break on the second, fourth, and sixth hours; can sit eight
hours in an eight-hour day with a ten minute break on the
second, fourth, and sixth hours; can never climb a ladder,
rope, or scaffolding; can occasionally climb ramps and
stairs; can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; and
can never work around hazardous machinery, at unprotected
heights, or driving commercial vehicles. (Tr. 35-38).
Four, the ALJ determined Bailey is unable to perform any past
relevant work. (Tr. 38-39). At Step Five, the ALJ determined,
based on Bailey's age, education, work experience, and
RFC, jobs exist in significant numbers in the national
economy Bailey could perform. (Tr. 39-40). Therefore, the ALJ
determined Bailey had not been under a disability and denied
Bailey's claim. (Tr. 40).
the court may only reverse a finding of the Commissioner if
it is not supported by substantial evidence or because
improper legal standards were applied, “[t]his does not
relieve the court of its responsibility to scrutinize the
record in its entirety to ascertain whether substantial
evidence supports each essential administrative
finding.” Walden v. Schweiker, 672 F.2d 835,
838 (11th Cir. 1982) (citing Strickland v. Harris,
615 F.2d 1103, 1106 (5th Cir. 1980)). The court, however,
“abstains from reweighing the evidence or substituting
its own judgment for that of the [Commissioner].”
Id. (citation omitted).
alleges the following errors:
1. The ALJ failed to evaluate Bailey pursuant to Listing 5.05
Chronic Liver Disease. Additionally, medical information
should have been requested if there was doubt as to the
application of Listing 5.05.
2. The ALJ's decision is not based on substantial
evidence, especially when records submitted to the Appeals
Council are considered.
3. The ALJ failed to consider all of Bailey's severe
4. The RFC findings is not supported by substantial evidence,
conclusory, and ...