United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sonya Hall Morgan appeals the decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security denying her claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits. Based on the court's
review of the administrative record and the parties'
briefs, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision.
Morgan applied for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits on September 15, 2014. (R. 37; 118). Ms.
Morgan alleges that her disability began on July 13, 2009.
(R. 37; 118). The Commissioner initially denied Ms.
Morgan's claim on October 23, 2014. (R. 121-127). Ms.
Morgan requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ). (R. 128-130). After holding a hearing, the ALJ issued
an unfavorable decision on June 24, 2016. (R. 33-51). On May
3, 2017, the Appeals Council declined Ms. Morgan's
request for review (R. 1), making the Commissioner's
decision final and ripe for the court's judicial review.
See 42 U.S.C § 405(g).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court's role in reviewing claims brought under the Social
Security Act is a narrow one. The court “must determine
whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence and based on proper legal
standards.” Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). “Under the
substantial evidence standard, this court will affirm the
ALJ's decision if there exists ‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Henry v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 802 F.3d 1264, 1267 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178). The court may not
“decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, ”
or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178 (internal quotations and
citation omitted). The court must affirm “[e]ven if the
evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
findings.” Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158-59 (11th Cir. 2004) (per
curiam) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
the deferential standard for review of claims, the court must
“‘scrutinize the record as a whole to determine
if the decision reached is reasonable and supported by
substantial evidence.'” Henry, 802 F.3d at
1267 (quoting MacGregor v. Bowen, 786 F.2d 1050,
1053 (11th Cir. 1986)). Moreover, the court must reverse the
Commissioner's decision if the ALJ does not apply the
correct legal standards. Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936
F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
determine whether an individual is disabled, an ALJ follows a
five-step sequential evaluation process. The ALJ considers:
(1) whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
gainful activity; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment meets or equals the severity of the specified
impairments in the Listing of Impairments; (4) based on a
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) assessment,
whether the claimant can perform any of his or her past
relevant work despite the impairment; and (5) whether there
are significant numbers of jobs in the national economy that
the claimant can perform given the claimant's RFC, age,
education, and work experience.
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178.
the ALJ determined that Ms. Morgan has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity from the alleged onset date of
July 13, 2019 through her date last insured of December 31,
2014. (R. 40). The ALJ found that Ms. Morgan has the
following severe impairments: fibromyalgia, lupus,
osteoarthritis, migraine headaches, obsessive compulsive
disorder, anxiety, and depression. (R. 40). The ALJ then
concluded that Ms. Morgan does not suffer from an impairment
or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals
the severity of one of one of the listed impairments in 20
C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (R. 44).
considering the evidence of record, the ALJ determined that
through her date last insured, Ms. Morgan had the RFC to
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b), which allowed
for primarily work around things; casual contact with the
general public; occasional contact with co-workers and
supervisors; occasional stooping and crouching; no climbing;
no driving; no unrestricted heights; simple, ...