United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
TARA L. TURLEY, Plaintiff,
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, COMMISSIONER, Defendant.
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Tara L. Turley 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 WILL AFFIRM the
Turley applied for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits on November 1, 2014. (R. 28, 141,
233-241). Ms. Turley alleges that her disability began on
October 13, 2014. (R. 28, 141). The Commissioner initially
denied Ms. Turley's claim on January 21, 2015. (R.
169-173). Ms. Turley requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (R. 167-168). After holding a
hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on January
31, 2017. (R. 25-37). On October 31, 2017, the Appeals
Council declined Ms. Turley'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 §
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. Turley has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since October 13, 2014, the
alleged onset date. (R. 30). The ALJ found that Ms. Turley
has the following severe impairments: trigeminal neuralgia,
depression, migraine headaches, cervical radiculopathy, and
obesity. (R. 30). The ALJ then concluded that Ms. Turley 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. 32).
considering the evidence of record, the ALJ determined that
Ms. Turley has the RFC to perform:
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except: lift 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; sit at least 6
hours in an 8hour workday; stand and walk, in combination, no
more than 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; occasionally climb
ramps and stairs, but never climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolding; occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and
crawl; avoid work at unprotected heights and moving
mechanical parts; occasional exposure to weather, humidity,
wetness, extreme heat, extreme cold, and vibration; and
perform simple and routine tasks, involving occasional
contact with the general public.
(R. 33). Based on this RFC, the ALJ found that Ms. Turley
cannot perform her past relevant work as a medical
transcriptionist or editor/proofreader. (R. 35-36).
on testimony from a vocational expert, the ALJ concluded that
jobs exist in the national economy that Ms. Turley can
perform, including routing clerk, night cleaner, and
assembler. (R. 36-37). Accordingly, the ALJ determined that
Ms. Turley has not been under a disability as defined in the