United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Danny Monroe Smith (“Smith”) seeks review,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 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). Smith timely pursued and
exhausted his administrative remedies. This case is therefore
ripe for review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The
undersigned has carefully considered the record and, for the
reasons stated below, the Commissioner's decision is
Factual and Procedural History
protectively filed an application for DIB on August 16, 2013,
alleging disability beginning on November 22, 2012. (Tr.
188-91). Smith later amended his onset date to October 1,
2013. (Tr. 39, 216-17). The Commissioner initially denied
Smith's claim, (tr. 83-87), and Smith requested a hearing
before an ALJ, (tr. 88-89). After hearings on May 18, 2015
and September 24, 2015, the ALJ denied Smith's claim on
December 10, 2015. (Tr. 19-29). Smith sought review by the
Appeals Council, but it denied his request for review on
February 1, 2017. (Tr. 1-6). On that date, the ALJ's
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. On
March 24, 2017, Smith initiated this action. (Doc. 1).
was fifty-three years old on the date of the hearing. (Tr.
40). Smith has a GED and has previously worked as a saddle
maker. (Tr. 29, 40, 52).
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, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1422 (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 that are supported by
substantial evidence. However, it 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
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, [he] will
automatically be found disabled if [he] suffers from a listed
impairment. If the claimant does not have a listed impairment
but cannot perform [his] 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 ...