United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BRADLEY MURRAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Shanna Rochell Waters brings this action, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“the Commissioner”) denying her claim for a
period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“the Act”). The parties have consented to the
exercise of jurisdiction by the Magistrate Judge, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(c), for all proceedings in this Court.
(Doc. 17 (“In accordance with the provisions of 28
U.S.C. 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, the parties in this case
consent to have a United States Magistrate Judge conduct any
and all proceedings in this case, … order the entry of
a final judgment, and conduct all post-judgment
proceedings.”)). See also Doc. 18. Upon
consideration of the administrative record, Waters's
brief, the Commissioner's brief, and oral argument
presented at the February 6, 2019 hearing before the
undersigned Magistrate Judge, it is determined that the
Commissioner's decision denying benefits should be
applied for a period of disability and DIB, under Title II of
the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 423 - 425, on August 4, 2015,
alleging disability beginning on July 28, 2015. (Tr. 139-45).
Her application was denied at the initial level of
administrative review on September 11, 2015. (Tr. 102-07). On
September 24, 2015, Waters requested a hearing by an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (Tr. 110-11). Waters appeared
at a hearing before the ALJ on April 3, 2017. (Tr. 31-58).
The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding that Waters
was not under a disability during the applicable time period
on August 29, 2017. (Tr. 15-26). Waters appealed the
ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, and, on April 25,
2018, the Appeals Council denied her request for review of
the ALJ's decision, thereby making the ALJ's decision
the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3).
exhausting her administrative remedies, Waters sought
judicial review in this Court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g). (Doc. 1). The Commissioner filed an
answer and the social security transcript on July 30, 2018.
(Docs. 10, 11). Both parties filed briefs setting forth their
respective positions. (Docs. 13, 14). Oral argument was held
before the undersigned Magistrate Judge on February 6, 2019.
(Doc. 19). The case is now ripe for decision.
CLAIMS ON APPEAL
alleges that the ALJ's decision to deny her benefits is
in error because the ALJ failed to order a consultative
examination. (Doc. 13 at p. 1).
was born on July 21, 1971 and was 44 years old at the time
she filed her claim for benefits. (Tr. 34). Waters alleged
disability due to degenerative disc disease, back problems,
fibromyalgia, arthritis, carpal tunnel in both hands, and
diabetes. (Tr. 172). Although she was primarily in special
education classes, she completed high school and obtained a
graduation certificate. (Tr. 35-36; 156-57). She has worked
as a sawmill worker, construction laborer, sewing machine
operator, security gate guard, and level winder. (Tr. 36-38;
196-201). She testified that the problems with her back are
the reason she left her job as a level winder where she had
to stand on cement in steel toed shoes and the reason that
she cannot work now. (Tr. 36, 39). Waters testified that she
is able to bathe, dress, and groom herself. (Tr. 44-45).
According to Waters, on a typical day, after showering, she
makes herself something to eat, then works on doing her
household chores. (Tr. 44). She testified that doing her
household chores used to take her two hours, but because she
cannot stand too long, it now takes her all day.
(Id.). She can drive but does not because it causes
pain and numbness in her legs. (Tr. 35). Her daughter drives
her to church, to the store (where she shops for herself),
and to watch her grandson play sports. (Tr. 45).
conducting a hearing, the ALJ made a determination that
Waters was not under a disability at any time from July 28,
2015, the alleged onset date, through August 29, 2017, the
date of the ALJ's decision, and thus, was not entitled to
benefits. (Tr. 15-26). After considering all of the evidence,
the ALJ made the following findings in her August 29, 2017
decision that are relevant to the issues presented:
5. After careful consideration of the entire record,
the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) except she would need to be able to alternate
positions at will between sitting and standing, and this
could be accommodated without leaving the
The claimant has sufficient evidence in the record to show
that she has the severe impairments of degenerative joint
disease, degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, diabetes
with diabetic neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and
obesity. The medical evidence documents the diagnoses of the
impairments, that the impairments have endured for more than
twelve months and that the ...