United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Robert Clarence Warden appeals the decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security denying his 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 Commissioner's decision.
October 9, 2013, Mr. Warden applied for a period of
disability and disability insurance benefits, alleging that
his disability began on July 8, 2013. (R. at 292-300). The
Commissioner initially denied his application and he
requested review by an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). (Id. at 184, 186-90). After
holding a hearing (id. at 26-64), the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision (id. at 163-79), which the
Appeals Council reversed and remanded with instructions for
the ALJ to consider the opinion of a treating physician
(id. at 182-873). On remand, the ALJ held another
hearing (R. at 65-110), then issued another unfavorable
decision (id. at 10-25). The Appeals Council denied
Mr. Warden's request for review of that decision.
(Id. at 1-6). The Commissioner's decision is now
final and ripe for 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) (quotation
marks omitted). “Where the ALJ denies benefits and the
Appeals Council denies review, [this court] review[s] the
ALJ's decision as the Commissioner's final
decision.” Henry v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
802 F.3d 1264, 1267 (11th Cir. 2015) (quotation marks and
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, 802 F.3d at
1267 (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 (quotation marks
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) (quotation marks 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)). 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 the relevant time period was from Mr.
Warden's alleged disability onset date of July 8, 2013,
through his date last insured of December 31, 2015. (R. at
12). He had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
during that period. (Id.).
found that during the relevant time period, Mr. Warden had
one severe impairment: coronary artery disease. (R. at 12).
During the same period, Mr. Warden also had hypertension,
hyperlipidemia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, mild
dementia, arthritis, anxiety, and depression, all of which
were non-severe. (Id. at 12-15). Finally, the ALJ
noted that Mr. Warden had in the past been treated for carpal
tunnel syndrome, sleep apnea, mild asthma/chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, and restless leg syndrome, but he had not
received any treatment for those impairments during the
relevant time period. (Id. at 15).
concluded that Mr. Warden did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equalled the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. §
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (R. at 15). After considering the
evidence, the ALJ determined that Mr. Warden had
the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as
defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) except the claimant can
frequently use bilateral hand controls. He can frequently
reach overhead bilaterally. He can frequently climb ramps and
stairs, but never climb ladders or scaffolds. He can
frequently stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. The claimant
should never be exposed to unprotected heights. He would be
limited to routine and repetitive tasks and making simple