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Davis v. Saul

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 4, 2019

REGINA B. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, [1] Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          SONJA F. BIVINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Regina B. Davis (hereinafter “Plaintiff”), seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq., and 1381, et seq. On April 10, 2019, the parties consented to have the undersigned conduct any and all proceedings in this case. (Doc. 18). Thus, the action was referred to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings and order the entry of judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. Upon careful consideration of the administrative record and the memoranda of the parties, it is hereby ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED.

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff protectively filed her application for benefits on July 14, 2015, alleging disability beginning March 15, 2014, based on “asthma, HBP [high blood pressure], heart problems, left leg swollen, sleep disorder, and acid reflux.” (Doc. 13 at 156, 188, 193). Plaintiff's application was denied and upon timely request, she was granted an administrative hearing before Administrative Law Judge Paul Reams on January 3, 2017. (Id. at 28). Plaintiff attended the hearing with her counsel and provided testimony related to her claims. (Id. at 34). A vocational expert (“VE”) also appeared at the hearing and provided testimony. (Id. at 54). On August 10, 2017, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding that Plaintiff is not disabled. (Id. at 15). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on June 26, 2018. (Id. at 5). Therefore, the ALJ's decision dated August 10, 2017, became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         Having exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff timely filed the present civil action. (Doc. 1). Oral argument was conducted on April 26, 2019 (Doc. 20), and the parties agree that this case is now ripe for judicial review and is properly before this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3).

         II. Issues on Appeal

1. Whether substantial evidence supports the RFC for a range of light work with the stated restrictions?
2. Whether the ALJ erred in failing to order a consultative orthopedic examination?

         III. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was born on May 20, 1972, and was forty-four years of age at the time of her administrative hearing on January 3, 2017. (Doc. 13 at 34, 188). Plaintiff completed the twelfth grade and trained as a certified nursing assistant. (Id. at 35, 194).

         Plaintiff worked as a certified nursing assistant from 1992 to 2014.[2] (Id. at 38). At the administrative hearing, Plaintiff testified that she stopped working because of problems with dizziness and high blood pressure. (Id. at 37-39).

         IV. Standard of Review

         In reviewing claims brought under the Act, this Court's role is a limited one. The Court's review is limited to determining 1) whether the decision of the Secretary is supported by substantial evidence and 2) whether the correct legal standards were applied.[3]Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). A court may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Sewell v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 1065, 1067 (11th Cir. 1986). The Commissioner's findings of fact must be affirmed if they are based upon substantial evidence. Brown v. Sullivan, 921 F.2d 1233, 1235 (11th Cir. 1991); Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983) (holding substantial evidence is defined as “more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance” and consists of “such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”). In determining whether substantial evidence exists, a court must view the record as a whole, taking into account evidence favorable, as well as unfavorable, to the Commissioner's decision. Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986); Short v. Apfel, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10163, *4 (S.D. Ala. June 14, 1999).

         V. Statutory And ...


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