United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
SABRINA TOLBERT, on behalf of JAYLAND D. WHITE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. BORDEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
April 4, 2014, Plaintiff Sabrina Tolbert filed an application
for supplemental security income on behalf of her son, the
claimant, Jayland D. White. His alleged disability onset date
is March 20, 2014. White's application for benefits was
denied at the initial administrative level. Tolbert then
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). The ALJ held a hearing on April 26,
2017. She denied White's claims on June 27, 2017. Tolbert
requested a review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals
Council, which declined review on March 14, 2018. As a
result, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) as of March 14, 2018.
case is now before the court for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). Under 28 U.S.C. §
636(c)(1) and Rule 73 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the parties have consented to the full
jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge. Based on
its careful review of the parties' submissions, the
relevant law, and the record as a whole, the court concludes
that the decision of the Commissioner is due to be REVERSED
and REMANDED to the ALJ for proceedings consistent with this
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court reviews a Social Security appeal to determine whether
the Commissioner's decision “is supported by
substantial evidence and based upon proper legal
standards.” Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436,
1439 (11th Cir. 1997). The court will reverse the
Commissioner's decision if it is convinced that the
decision was not supported by substantial evidence or that
the proper legal standards were not applied. Carnes v.
Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1215, 1218 (11th Cir. 1991). The
court “may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the
evidence, or substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner, ” but rather “must defer to the
Commissioner's decision if it is supported by substantial
evidence.” Miles v. Chater, 84 F.3d 1397, 1400
(11th Cir. 1997) (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted). “Even if the evidence preponderates against
the Secretary's factual findings, [the court] must affirm
if the decision reached is supported by substantial
evidence.” Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520,
1529 (11th Cir. 1990). Moreover, reversal is not warranted
even if the court itself would have reached a result contrary
to that of the factfinder. See Edwards v. Sullivan,
937 F.2d 580, 584 n.3 (11th Cir. 1991).
substantial evidence standard is met “if a reasonable
person would accept the evidence in the record as adequate to
support the challenged conclusion.” Holladay v.
Bowen, 848 F.2d 1206, 1208 (11th Cir. 1988) (quoting
Boyd v. Heckler, 704 F.2d 1207, 1209 (11th Cir.
1983)). The requisite evidentiary showing has been described
as “more than a scintilla, but less than a
preponderance.” Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703
F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983). The court must scrutinize
the entire record to determine the reasonableness of the
decision reached and cannot “act as [an] automaton in
reviewing the [Commissioner's] decision.” Hale
v. Bowen, 831 F.2d 1007, 1010 (11th Cir. 1987). Thus,
the court must consider evidence both favorable and
unfavorable to the Commissioner's decision. Swindle
v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 222, 225 (11th Cir. 1990).
court will reverse the Commissioner's decision on plenary
review if the decision applies incorrect law or fails to
provide the court with sufficient reasoning to determine that
the Commissioner properly applied the law. Id.
(citing Keeton v. Dep't of Health & Human
Servs., 21 F.3d 1064, 1066 (11th Cir. 1994)). There is
no presumption that the Commissioner's conclusions of law
are valid. Id.
STATUTORY AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
individual under the age of 18 is considered disabled if he
shows a “medically determinable physical or mental
impairment, which results in marked and severe functional
limitations, and which can be expected to result in death or
that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 month.” 42 U.S.C. §
1382c(a)(3)(C)(i). A physical or mental impairment is
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrated by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(3).
White bears the burden of proving that he is disabled, and is
responsible for producing evidence sufficient to support his
claim. See Ellison v. Barnhart, 355 F.3d 1272, 1276
(11th Cir. 2003).
those under the age of 18, a determination of disability
under the Social Security Act requires a three-step analysis.
20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a). The Commissioner must determine
(1) Is the child engaged in substantial gainful activity?
(2) Are the child's impairments severe?
(3) Do the child's impairments satisfy or medically equal
one of the specific impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. ...