United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
April Eason (“Eason”) 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”),
partially granting her application for a period of
disability, disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”), and supplemental security income
(“SSI”). (Doc. 1). Eason timely pursued and
exhausted her 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
filed an application for a period of disability and DIB on
February 17, 2011, and protectively filed an application for
SSI on May 10, 2013. (Tr. 157, 376-82, 404-09). Both
applications alleged an onset date of September 1,
2010. (Id.). On May 10, 2011, the
Commissioner denied both claims, (tr. 145), and on June 8,
2011, Eason requested a hearing before an ALJ, (tr. 184-85).
On March 6, 2013, the ALJ held a hearing, (tr. 82-144), and
subsequently denied Eason's claim on June 28, 2013, (tr.
154-73). Eason sought review by the Appeals Council, which
vacated and remanded the case on June 27, 2014 due to the
ALJ's failure to proffer to Eason and her counsel a
consultative examination report used in his decision. (Tr.
174-77). On remand, the ALJ held a second hearing on March
26, 2015. (Tr. 45-81). On July 14, 2015, the ALJ issued a
partially favorable decision, finding Eason became disabled
on May 1, 2014. (Tr. 18-44). Eason again sought review by the
Appeals Council, but it denied her request for review on
March 7, 2017. (Tr. 1-6). On that date, the ALJ's
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. On
May 9, 2017, Eason initiated this action. (Doc. 1).
date the ALJ rendered his decision, Eason was fifty years
old, with at least a high school education and previous work
as a retail inspector, purchasing agent, and a receiving
clerk. (Tr. 34, 69, 376).
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 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
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