United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
K. KALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Wallace brings this action pursuant to Section 205(g) of the
Social Security Act (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking review of the final adverse decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”). The court finds that the Administrative
Law Judge's (“ALJ”) and the Appeals
Council's decisions-which have become the decision of the
Commissioner-are supported by substantial evidence.
Therefore, the court affirms the decision denying benefits.
November 17, 2015, Wallace filed applications for a period of
disability and disability insurance benefits (DIB) and for
supplemental security income, alleging a disability beginning
June 1, 2008. R. 199-210. After the denial of both
applications, Wallace requested a hearing before an ALJ. R.
96-99, 35. At the hearing and upon Wallace's request, the
ALJ amended her alleged onset date of disability to July 11,
2014. R. 45-46. The ALJ ultimately denied Wallace's
claim, finding that Wallace was not disabled under the Act.
R. 7-26. This became the final decision of the Commissioner
when the Appeals Council refused to grant review. R. 1-6.
Wallace then filed this action pursuant to § 205(g) of
the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Doc. 1.
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. See Richardson v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971); Wilson v. Barnhart, 284
F.3d 1219, 1221 (11th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence falls
somewhere between a scintilla and a preponderance of
evidence, and 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)
(citations omitted). The ALJ's decision is supported by
substantial evidence if it is based on “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Crawford v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting
Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir.
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
factual findings must be affirmed “[e]ven if the
evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
findings. . . .” Id. (quoting Martin v.
Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990)). The
ALJ's legal conclusions, however, are reviewed 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). While the court
acknowledges that judicial review of the ALJ's findings
is limited in scope, the court also notes that review
“does not yield automatic affirmance.” Lamb
v. Bowen, 847 F.2d 698, 701 (11th Cir. 1988). 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, the ALJ's decision must be reversed. See
Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir.
STATUTORY AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
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)(I)(A). 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). The disability must have begun on or
before the date that the individual was last insured for
disability benefits. 42 U.S.C. § 423 (a)(1)(A), (c)(1).
of disability under the Act requires a five step analysis. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(f). Specifically, the Commissioner
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
(4) whether the claimant is unable to perform his or her past