United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MICHAEL R. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
Russ Walker, United States Magistrate Judge
Michael R. Thompson commenced this action on December 14,
2017, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3),
seeking judicial review of a final adverse decision of the
Commissioner denying his application for a period of
supplemental security income (“SSI”).
See Doc. 1; Doc. 13 at 1. In his application, he
alleges disability as of November 15, 2012,  due to
“colon polyps, ” “ankles pain, ”
“high blood pressure, ” and “bleeding
ulcer.” See R. 64, 226. On February 28, 2017,
Administrative Law Judge Renita Barnett-Jefferson (“the
ALJ”) issued an adverse decision after holding a
hearing on the plaintiff's application. See R.
15-32. On November 9, 2017, the Appeals Council denied
plaintiff's request for review, and the ALJ's
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner.
See R. 1-5.
instant appeal, the plaintiff asks the court to reverse the
Commissioner's adverse decision and award benefits or, in
the alternative, remand this cause to the Commissioner for
further proceedings. See Doc. 13 at 7. This case is
ripe for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3). The parties have consented to entry of final
judgment by the Magistrate Judge. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c). See Doc. 7; Doc. 8. For the reasons
stated herein, and based upon its review of the record, the
court finds that the Commissioner's decision is due to be
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 (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. A reviewing court
“may not decide facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or
substitute [its] decision for that of the
[Commissioner].” Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d
1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005). In other words, this court is
prohibited from reviewing the Commissioner's findings of
fact de novo, even where a preponderance of the
evidence supports alternative conclusions.
the court must uphold factual findings that are supported by
substantial evidence, 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 that the proper legal analysis has
been conducted, it must reverse the ALJ's decision.
Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th
qualify for SSI 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), 416.905(a). To establish an
entitlement to disability benefits, a claimant must provide
evidence about a “physical or mental impairment”
that “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, 416.908.
Regulations provide a five-step process for determining
whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(i-v), 416.920(a)(4)(i-v). The Commissioner
must determine in sequence:
(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 a 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). The
sequential analysis goes as follows:
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