United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. BORDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
January 5, 2015, Plaintiff Jennifer Jaye Parkinson applied
for a period of disability, supplemental security income, and
disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act
(“the Act”) alleging a disability onset date of
November 2, 2011. Doc. 14-2 at 61. Parkinson then requested
and received a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) on July 25, 2016. Doc. 14-2 at 61. On
September 29, 2016, the ALJ denied Parkinson's claims.
Doc. 14-2 at 58. Parkinson's request for review of the
ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council was denied on
September 7, 2017. Doc. 14-2 at 2. As a result, the ALJ's
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (the “Commissioner”) as of
September 7, 2017.
case is now before the court for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). Based on the court's
careful review of the parties' arguments, the record, and
the relevant case law, the court concludes that the decision
of the Commissioner is due to be AFFIRMED, as set forth
NATURE OF THE CASE
seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's decision
denying her application for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income benefits. United States District
Courts may conduct limited review of such decisions to
determine whether they comply with applicable law and are
supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405. The
court may affirm, reverse and remand with instructions, or
reverse and render a judgment.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court reviews a social security appeal to determine whether
the Commissioner's decision “is supported by
substantial evidence and based upon proper legal
standards.” Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436,
1439 (11th Cir. 1997). The court will reverse the
Commissioner's decision if it is convinced that the
decision was not supported by substantial evidence or that
the proper legal standards were not applied. Carnes v.
Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1215, 1218 (11th Cir. 1991). The
court “may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the
evidence, or substitute [its] judgment for that of the
[Commissioner], ” but rather it “must defer to
the Commissioner's decision if it is supported by
substantial evidence.” Miles v. Chater, 84
F.3d 1397, 1400 (11th Cir. 1997) (internal quotations and
citations omitted). “Even if the evidence preponderates
against the Secretary's factual findings, [the court]
must affirm if the decision reached is supported by
substantial evidence.” Martin v. Sullivan, 894
F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). Moreover, reversal is not
warranted even if the court itself would have reached a
result contrary to that of the factfinder. See
Edwards v. Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580, 584 n.3
(11th Cir. 1991).
substantial evidence standard is met “if a reasonable
person would accept the evidence in the record as adequate to
support the challenged conclusion.” Holladay v.
Bowen, 848 F.2d 1206, 1208 (11th Cir. 1988) (quoting
Boyd v. Heckler, 704 F.2d 1207, 1209 (11th Cir.
1983)). The requisite evidentiary showing has been described
as “more than a scintilla, but less than a
preponderance.” Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703
F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983). The court must scrutinize
the entire record to determine the reasonableness of the
decision reached and cannot “act as [an] automaton in
reviewing the [Commissioner's] decision.” Hale
v. Bowen, 831 F.2d 1007, 1010 (11th Cir. 1987). Thus,
the court must consider evidence both favorable and
unfavorable to the Commissioner's decision. Swindle
v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 222, 225 (11th Cir. 1990).
court will reverse the Commissioner's decision on plenary
review if the decision applies incorrect law or fails to
provide the court with sufficient reasoning to determine that
the Commissioner properly applied the law. Keeton v.
Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 21 F.3d 1064,
1066 (11th Cir. 1994). There is no presumption that the
Commissioner's conclusions of law are valid. Id.
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 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A); 42 U.S.C. § 416(i). 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). Parkinson bears the burden of proving that she is
disabled, and she is responsible for producing evidence to
support her claim. See Ellison v. Barnhart, 355 F.3d
1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2003).
determination of disability under the Social Security Act
requires a five-step analysis. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a).
The Commissioner must determine in sequence:
(1) Is the claimant presently unable to engage in substantial
(2) Is the claimant's impairment(s) severe?
(3) Does the claimant's impairment(s) satisfy or
medically equal one of the specific impairments set forth in