United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Martha Knight (“Knight”) 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”)
denying her application for a period of disability,
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”), and
supplemental security income (“SSI”). (Doc. 1).
Knight 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 AFFIRMED.
Factual and Procedural History
protectively filed an application for a period of disability
and DIB and an application for SSI on January 27, 2015. (Tr.
166-178). Both applications alleged an onset date of October
1, 2013. (Tr. 166, 170). On May 22, 2015, the Commissioner
denied both claims, (tr. 99-106), and on June 10, 2015,
Knight requested a hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”), (tr. 114-15). On August 31, 2016, the
ALJ held a hearing, (tr. 37-72), and subsequently denied
Knight's claim on November 1, 2016, (tr. 14-32). Knight
sought review by the Appeals Council, but it denied her
request for review on August 29, 2017. (Tr. 1-6). On that
date, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner. On October 12, 2017, Knight initiated this
action. (Doc. 1).
date of her hearing, Knight was fifty-six years old, with an
11th-grade education and previous work as a laborer,
babysitter, and janitor/short-order cook. (Tr. 42, 60).
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