United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
E. OTT CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Joe Nathan Williams, Jr. brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking review of the final decision of
the Acting Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying him Supplemental Social
Security (“SSI”) and Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”). (Doc. 1). The case has been
assigned to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge
pursuant to this court's general order of reference. The
parties have consented to the jurisdiction of this court for
disposition of the matter. See 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), Fed.R.Civ.P. 73(a). (Doc. 10). Upon review of the
record and the relevant law, the undersigned finds that the
Commissioner's decision is due to be affirmed.
filed his applications for SSI and DIB on July 23, 2015,
alleging disability beginning July 13, 2015. (R.
135-47). After his applications were denied
initially, (R. 70-71), Plaintiff requested a hearing before
an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). (R. 94-95).
After the video hearing, the ALJ issued a decision on
November 15, 2017, finding Plaintiff not disabled. (R.
10-17). Plaintiff then filed a request for review of the
ALJ's decision, and the Appeals Council
(“AC”) denied Plaintiff's request for review.
(Id. at 1-6). The matter is properly before this
was born on October 24, 1970, and was forty-four years old at
the time his filed his applications. (R. 74, 135, 142). He
alleges that he became disabled as of July 13, 2015, as a
result of diabetes, hypertension, back problems and amputated
small left toe. (R. 191).
Plaintiff's administrative hearing, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since the onset date of July 13, 2015. (R. 12). The ALJ
further found that Plaintiff had the medically determinable
severe impairments of diabetes mellitus and states post
amputation of the third, fourth and fifth toes on the left
foot. (Id.). He also found that Plaintiff did not
have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
equaled the severity of a listed impairment. (Id. at
13). The ALJ then found that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full
range of light work and could not perform his past relevant
work. (R. 13-15). Based on the Plaintiff's age, education
and RFC, the ALJ concluded that Medical-Vocational Rule
202.18 directed a finding of not disabled. (R. 15-16).
Therefore, the ALJ found Plaintiff was not disabled from July
13, 2015, through the date of the decision. (Id. at
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court's review of the Commissioner's decision is
narrowly circumscribed. The function of the court is to
determine whether the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence and whether proper legal
standards were applied. Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 390, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1422 (1971); Mitchell v.
Comm'r Soc. Sec., 771 F.3d 780, 782 (11th Cir.
2015); Wilson v. Barnhart, 284 F.3d 1219, 1221 (11th
Cir. 2002). The 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.
court must uphold factual findings that are supported by
substantial evidence. However, 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.
See Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46
(11th Cir. 1991). The court must affirm the ALJ's
decision if substantial evidence supports it, even if other
evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
findings. See Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting Martin v.
Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir.1990)).
STATUTORY AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
qualify for benefits a claimant must show the inability to
engage in “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 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A).
A physical or mental impairment is “an impairment that
results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological
abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically acceptable
clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” 42
U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(D).
of disability under the Social Security Act requires a five
step analysis. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b) &
416.920(a)(4). Specifically, the Commissioner must determine
whether the claimant: (1) is unable to engage in substantial
gainful activity; (2) has a severe medically determinable
physical or mental impairment; (3) has such an impairment
that meets or equals a Listing and meets the duration
requirements; (4) can perform his past relevant work, in
light of his residual functional capacity; and (5) can make
an adjustment to ...