United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
Russ Walker, United States Magistrate Judge
David Lee Lewis, Sr., applied for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“the Act”) on November 4, 2009, and Supplemental
Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI on November 9, 2009,
alleging a disability date of October 1, 2009. (R. 165, 174,
530). The applications were denied initially on
February 27, 2010, and upon reconsideration on March 22,
2010. (R. 103, 530). Thereafter, plaintiff requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and appeared
at the hearing on March 23, 2011. (R. 37-79, 530). In a
hearing decision dated January 18, 2012, the ALJ found that
plaintiff was not disabled. (R. 21-29). Plaintiff ultimately
appealed to the district court and the court remanded the
case for further consideration because the ALJ erred in his
credibility analysis. (R. 530); Lewis v. Colvin,
2:13cv355-MHT (M.D. Ala. July 29, 2014).
held a new hearing on June 7, 2016, which plaintiff attended
without counsel. (R. 559-75). In a hearing decision dated
December 8, 2016, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not
disabled. (R. 530-51). The Appeals Council denied
plaintiff's request for review. (R. 522-25). As a result,
the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner). Id.
instant appeal, plaintiff asks the court for relief in his
favor due to his health condition. See Docs. 16, 19.
This case is ripe for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). The parties have consented
to entry of final judgment by the Magistrate Judge.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); see also Docs.
11, 12. After careful scrutiny of the record and briefs, for
reasons herein explained, the court concludes that the
Commissioner's decision is due to be reversed and
NATURE OF THE CASE
seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's decision
denying his application for disability insurance benefits.
United States district courts may conduct limited review of
such decisions to determine whether they comply with
applicable law and are supported by substantial evidence. 42
U.S.C. § 405. The court may affirm, reverse and remand
with instructions, or reverse and render a judgment.
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 (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. A reviewing court
“may not decide facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or
substitute [its] decision for that of the
[Commissioner].” Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d
1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005). In other words, this court is
prohibited from reviewing the Commissioner's findings of
fact de novo, even where a preponderance of the
evidence supports alternative conclusions.
the court must uphold factual findings that are supported by
substantial evidence, 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 that the proper legal analysis has
been conducted, it must reverse the ALJ's decision.
Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th
qualify for SSI and establish his or 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), 416.905(a). To establish an
entitlement to disability benefits, a claimant must provide
evidence about a “physical or mental impairment”
that “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, 416.908.
Regulations provide a five-step process for determining
whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(i-v), 416.920(a)(4)(i-v). The Commissioner
must determine, in sequence:
(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