United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
G. CORNELIUS U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
plaintiff, Tina Lynn Chapman, appeals from the decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying her application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). Chapman
timely pursued and exhausted her administrative remedies, and
the Commissioner's decision is ripe for review pursuant
to 42 U.S.C § 1383(c)(3). For the reasons discussed
below, the Commissioner's decision is due to be reversed
completed the tenth grade and later obtained her GED. (Tr. at
182, 460). She has worked as a certified home health aide,
certified nursing assistant, and housekeeper. (Id.
at 182, 191). In her application for SSI, she alleged she
became disabled on August 1, 2014, as a result of
degenerative disc disease and an adjustment disorder.
(Id. at 143, 181). After her claims were denied,
Chapman requested a hearing before an administrative law
judge (“ALJ”). (Id. at 68, 86-90,
93-95). Following a hearing, the ALJ denied Chapman's
claims. (Id. at 11-22). Chapman was fifty-three
years old when the ALJ issued her decision. (Id. at
22, 143). After the Appeals Council denied review of the
ALJ's decision (id. at 1-4), that decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner, see Frye v.
Massanari, 209 F.Supp.2d 1246, 1251 (N.D. Ala. 2001
(citing Falge v. Apfel, 150 F.3d 1320, 1322 (11th
Cir. 1998)). Thereafter, Chapman commenced this action. (Doc.
Statutory and Regulatory Framework
establish eligibility 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. § 416(i)(1)(A); see also Id. at §
1382c(a)(3)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 416.905(a). The Social
Security Administration employs a five-step sequential
analysis to determine an individual's eligibility for
disability benefits. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4).
the Commissioner must determine whether the claimant is
engaged in “substantial gainful activity.”
Id. at § 416.920(a)(4)(i). “Under the
first step, the claimant has the burden to show that she is
not currently engaged in substantial gainful activity.”
Reynolds-Buckley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 457
Fed.Appx. 862, 863 (11th Cir. 2012). If the claimant is
engaged in substantial gainful activity, the Commissioner
will find the claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4)(i) and (b). At the first step, the ALJ
determined Chapman has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since her alleged disability onset date of August 1,
2014. (Tr. at 13).
claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful activity, the
Commissioner must next determine whether the claimant suffers
from a severe physical or mental impairment or combination of
impairments that has lasted or is expected to last for a
continuous period of at least twelve months. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4)(ii). An impairment “must result from
anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities
which can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques.” Furthermore, it
“must be established by medical evidence consisting of
signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings, not only by [the
claimant's] statement of symptoms.” Id. at
§ 416.908; see also 42 U.S.C. §
1382c(a)(3)(D). An impairment is severe if it
“significantly limits [the claimant's] physical or
mental ability to do basic work activities . . . .” 20
C.F.R. § 416.920(c). “[A]n impairment can be
considered as not severe only if it is a slight abnormality
which has such a minimal effect on the individual that it
would not be expected to interfere with the individual's
ability to work, irrespective of age, education, or work
experience.” Brady v. Heckler, 724 F.2d 914,
920 (11th Cir. 1984); see also 20 C.F.R. §
416.921(a). A claimant may be found disabled based on a
combination of impairments, even though none of the
individual impairments alone is disabling. 20 C.F.R. §
416.923. The claimant bears the burden of providing medical
evidence demonstrating an impairment and its severity.
Id. at § 416.912(a) and (c). If the claimant
does not have a severe impairment or combination of
impairments, the Commissioner will find the claimant is not
disabled. Id. at § 416.920(a)(4)(ii) and (c).
At the second step, the ALJ determined Chapman has the
following severe impairments: obesity, degenerative disc
disease, depression, degenerative joint disease, anxiety,
bipolar disorder, and panic disorder. (Tr. at 13).
claimant has a severe impairment or combination of
impairments, the Commissioner must then determine whether the
impairment meets or equals one of the “Listings”
found in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a)(4)(iii); see also Id. at
§§ 416.925 and 416.926. The claimant bears the
burden of proving her impairment meets or equals one of the
Listings. Reynolds-Buckley, 457 Fed.Appx. at 863. If
the claimant's impairment meets or equals one of the
Listings, the Commissioner will find the claimant is
disabled. 20 C.F.R § 416.920(a)(4)(iii) and (d). At the
third step, the ALJ determined Chapman does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of one of the Listings. (Tr. at
claimant's impairment does not meet or equal one of the
Listings, the Commissioner must determine the claimant's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) before
proceeding to the fourth step. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(e);
see also Id. at § 416.945. A claimant's RFC
is the most she can do despite her impairments. See
Id. at § 416.945(a)(1). At the fourth step, the
Commissioner will compare her assessment of the
claimant's RFC with the physical and mental demands of
the claimant's past relevant work. Id. at
§§ 416.920(a)(4)(iv) and (e), 416.960(b).
“Past relevant work is work that [the claimant] [has]
done within the past 15 years, that was substantial gainful
activity, and that lasted long enough for [the claimant] to
learn to do it.” Id. at § 416.960(b)(1).
The claimant bears the burden of proving her impairment
prevents her from performing her past relevant work.
Reynolds- Buckley, 457 Fed.Appx. at 863. If
the claimant is capable of performing her past relevant work,
the Commissioner will find the claimant is not disabled. 20
C.F.R. §§ 416.920(a)(4)(iv), 416.960(b)(3). Before
proceeding to the fourth step, the ALJ determined Chapman has
the RFC to perform light work with the following limitations:
she can sit for six hours in an eight-hour work day; stand
and/or walk for six hours in an eight-hour work day; never
climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds; occasionally climb ramps and
stairs, balance, stoop, crouch, kneel, and crawl;
occasionally reach overhead; understand, remember, and carry
out simple instructions; maintain attention and concentration
for two-hour periods at a time; perform jobs that do not
require interaction with the general public; have occasional
interaction with coworkers; adapt to routine and infrequent
workplace changes; make simple work-related decisions. (Tr.
at 17). At the fourth step, the ALJ determined Chapman is
unable to perform her past relevant work. (Id. at
claimant is unable to perform her past relevant work, the
Commissioner must finally determine whether the claimant is
capable of performing other work that exists in substantial
numbers in the national economy in light of the
claimant's RFC, age, education, and work experience. 20
C.F.R. §§ 416.920(a)(4)(v) and (g)(1),
416.960(c)(1). If the claimant is capable of performing other
work, the Commissioner will find the claimant is not
disabled. Id. at §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v) and
(g)(1), 416.920(a)(4)(v) and (g)(1). If the claimant is not
capable of performing other work, the Commissioner will find
the claimant is disabled. Id. At the fifth step,
considering Chapman's age, education, work experience,
and RFC, the ALJ determined there are jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that Chapman can
perform, such as those of laundry worker, shipping and
receiving weigher, and electrical accessories assembler. (Tr.
at 21). Therefore, the ALJ concluded Chapman is not disabled.
(Id. at 21-22).
Standard of Review
of the Commissioner's decision is limited to a
determination of whether that decision is supported by
substantial evidence and whether the Commissioner applied
correct legal standards. Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004). A district
court must review the Commissioner's findings of fact
with deference and may not reconsider the facts, reevaluate
the evidence, or substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Ingram v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 496 F.3d 1253, 1260 (11th Cir. 2007); Dyer
v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005).
Rather, a district 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)
(internal citations omitted). 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 district court
must uphold factual findings supported by substantial
evidence, even if the preponderance of the evidence is
against those findings. Miles v. Chater, 84 F.3d
1397, 1400 (11th Cir. 1996) (citing Martin v.
Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990)).
district court reviews the Commissioner's legal
conclusions de novo. Davis v. Shalala, 985
F.2d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 1993). “The
[Commissioner's] failure to apply the correct law or to
provide the reviewing court with sufficient reasoning for
determining that the proper legal analysis has been conducted