United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Matthew Lamar Rosson brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security denying his application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). During the
pendency of this action, Mr. Rosson filed two motions to
remand, one pursuant to sentence six (doc. 10), and the other
pursuant to sentence four (doc. 19). Based on the court's
review of the administrative record and the parties'
briefs, the court WILL DENY the motions to
remand and WILL AFFIRM the
Commissioner's decision denying benefits.
March 23, 2015, Mr. Rosson applied for SSI, alleging
disability beginning on January 4, 2010. (R. at 134-39).
Following the initial denial of his claim, Mr. Rosson
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), which was held on September 20, 2017.
(Id. at 78-93, 112). During the hearing, Mr. Rosson
amended his alleged onset date to the filing date of March
17, 2015. (Id. at 10, 81). The ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on November 15, 2017, finding that Mr.
Rosson was not disabled. (Id. at 10-19). On June 25,
2018, the Appeals Council declined Mr. Rosson's request
for review (id. at 1-4), making the
Commissioner's decision final and ripe for judicial
review. See 42 U.S.C §§ 405(g), 1383(c).
Following denial of review by the Appeals Council, Mr. Rosson
filed an appeal in this court. (Doc. 1). On December 21,
2018, Mr. Rosson filed a sentence six motion to remand based
on a favorable decision entered by a different ALJ for his
second disability application. (Doc. 10). Thereafter, on May
17, 2019, Mr. Rosson filed a sentence four motion to remand
asserting the same arguments provided in his memorandum in
support of disability. (Doc. 19).
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 Mr. Rosson has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since his alleged disability
onset date of March 17, 2015. (R. at 12). The ALJ found that
Mr. Rosson's morbid obesity, congestive heart failure,
obesity hypoventilation syndrome, venous insufficiency,
hypertension, and sleep apnea were severe impairments, but
that his Diabetes Mellitus (“DM”) was not severe.
(Id. at 12-13). The ALJ also found that although Mr.
Rosson claimed he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (“COPD”) and neuropathy, those were not
medically determinable impairments. (Id. at 13). The
ALJ concluded that Mr. Rosson did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Id. at 13-14). After
considering the evidence, the ALJ determined that Mr. Rosson
the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary
as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) with no climbing of ladders,
ropes, scaffolds, and no exposure to hazardous, moving
machinery or unprotected heights. Climbing of ramps and
stairs, stooping, kneeling, crouching, as well as bilateral
overhead reaching would be limited to occasional.
(R. at 14-15).
Mr. Rosson did not have past relevant work experience, the
ALJ found that transferability of job skills was not an
issue. (Id. at 17). Based on the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) determination and testimony from
a vocational expert (“VE”), the ALJ concluded
that jobs existed in significant numbers in the national
economy that Mr. Rosson could perform, including employment
as a general office clerk, order clerk, production worker,
and table worker. (Id. at 18). Accordingly, the ALJ
determined that Mr. Rosson was not disabled as defined by the
Social Security Act during the relevant time period.
(Id. at 18-19).
Rosson argues that the court should reverse and remand the
Commissioner's decision for three reasons: (1) the ALJ
failed to properly analyze Mr. Rosson's morbid obesity
under SSR 02-1p; (2) the ALJ's RFC finding is conclusory
and violated SSR 96-8a; and (3) the VE's testimony on
which the ALJ relied is not supported by substantial evidence
because the ALJ's hypothetical was incomplete. (Doc. 9 at
1-18). Mr. Rosson also moves for a sentence six remand ...