United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RUSS WALKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
14, 2016, Plaintiff Swayze McCray filed an application for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits under
Title II of the Social Security Act, alleging that he became
disabled on February 8, 2016. The application was denied at
the initial administrative level. Plaintiff then requested
and received a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision dated March 16, 2018. Plaintiff appealed
that decision and the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review on May 23, 2018. The ALJ's decision
consequently became the final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner”). See Chester
v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). The case
is now before the court for review of that decision pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and
Rule 73 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the parties
have consented to the conduct of all proceedings and entry of
a final judgment by the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge. See Docs. 6, 7. Based on its review of the
parties' submissions, the relevant law, and the record as
a whole, the court will reverse and remand the
STANDARD OF REVIEW AND REGULATORY
court's review of the Commissioner's decision is a
limited one. This court must find the Commissioner's
decision conclusive if it is supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Graham v. Apfel,
129 F.3d 1420, 1422 (11th Cir. 1997). “Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla, ” but less than a
preponderance, “and is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (“Even
if the evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
findings, [a reviewing court] must affirm if the decision
reached is supported by substantial evidence”)
(citations omitted). 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). However,
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). A reviewing court may not look only to those parts of
the record which support the decision of the ALJ, but instead
must view the record in its entirety and take account of
evidence which detracts from the evidence relied on by the
ALJ. Hillsman v. Bowen, 804 F.2d 1179, 1180 (11th
[The court must] . . . scrutinize the record in its entirety
to determine the reasonableness of the [Commissioner's] .
. . factual findings. . . . No similar presumption of
validity attaches to the [Commissioner's] . . . legal
conclusions, including determination of the proper standards
to be applied in evaluating claims.
Walker v. Bowen, 826 F.2d 996, 999 (11th Cir. 1987).
qualify for disability benefits and establish his or her
entitlement for a period of disability, a person must be
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
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). To make this determination, the
Commissioner employs a five-step, sequential evaluation
process. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520.
(1) Is the person presently unemployed?
(2) Is the person's impairment severe?
(3) Does the person's impairment meet or equal one of the
specific impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt.