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.

Markham v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division

September 17, 2018

THOMAS ANDERSON MARKHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ABDUL K. KALLON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Thomas Anderson Markham brings this action pursuant to Section 405(g) of the Social Security Act (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking review of the Administrative Law Judge's denial of disability insurance benefits, which has become the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). For the reasons explained below, the court finds that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) applied the correct legal standard and that her decision-which has become the final decision of the Commissioner-is supported by substantial evidence. Therefore, the court AFFIRMS the decision denying benefits.

         I. Procedural History

         Markham worked as coal miner for eleven years until he stopped working in 2014 at age 48 due to his alleged disability. Docs. 5-4 at 84; 5-8 at 7. Markham filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) on November 7, 2014, alleging that he suffered from a disability, beginning February 18, 2014 due to problems with his shoulders, diabetic nerve pain, dizziness, and a back impairment. Docs. 5-4 at 57; 5-5 at 3; 5-7 at 2; 5-8 at 6, 25. After the SSA denied his application, Markham requested a hearing before an ALJ, docs. 5-4 at 57; 5-5 at 15; 5-6 at 3, 8, and the ALJ ultimately entered a decision finding that Markham was not disabled, doc. 5-4 at 54. The SSA Appeals Council denied Markham's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Doc. 5-3 at 2. Having exhausted his administrative remedies, Markham timely filed this petition for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1383(c)(3) and 405(g). Doc. 1.

         II. Standard of Review

         The only issues before this court are whether the record contains substantial evidence to sustain the ALJ's decision, see 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Walden v. Schweiker, 672 F.2d 835, 838 (11th Cir. 1982), and whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards, see Lamb v. Bowen, 847 F.2d 698, 701 (11th Cir. 1988); Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). Title 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c) mandate that the Commissioner's “factual findings are conclusive if supported by ‘substantial evidence.'” Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). The district court may not reconsider the facts, reevaluate the evidence, or substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner; instead, it must review the final decision as a whole and determine if the decision is “‘reasonable and supported by substantial evidence.'” Id. (quoting Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983)).

         Substantial evidence falls somewhere between a scintilla and a preponderance of evidence; “‘[i]t is such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'” Martin, 894 F.2d at 1529 (quoting Bloodsworth, 703 F.2d at 1239). If supported by substantial evidence, the court must affirm the Commissioner's factual findings even if the preponderance of the evidence is against those findings. See Id. While judicial review of the ALJ's findings is limited in scope, it “does not yield automatic affirmance.” Lamb, 847 F.2d at 701.

         In contrast to the deferential review accorded the Commissioner's factual findings, “conclusions of law, including applicable review standards, are not presumed valid” and are subject to de novo review. Martin, 894 F.2d at 1529. The Commissioner's failure to “apply the correct legal standards or to provide the reviewing court with sufficient basis for a determination that proper legal principles have been followed” requires reversal. Id.

         III. Statutory and Regulatory Framework

         To qualify for disability 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 twelve months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); 42 U.S.C. § 416(i)(1). A physical or mental impairment is “an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are demonstrated by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(3).

         Determination of disability under the Act requires a five-step analysis. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). Specifically, the ALJ must determine in sequence:

(1) whether the claimant is currently unemployed;
(2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment;
(3) whether the impairment meets or equals one listed by the Secretary;
(4) whether the claimant is unable to perform his or her past work; and
(5) whether the claimant is unable to perform any work in the ...

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.