United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
F. BIVINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Jessica Ransom (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 October 28, 2019, the parties consented to have
the undersigned conduct any and all proceedings in this case.
(Doc. 16). 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.
Procedural History 
filed her application for benefits on March 20, 2015. (Doc.
9-5 at 2). Plaintiff alleges that she has been disabled since
November 26, 2007, due to diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and
neuropathy. (Doc. 9-6 at 2, 7).
application was denied and upon timely request, she was
granted an administrative hearing before Administrative Law
Judge Thomas M. Muth, II (hereinafter “ALJ”) on
November 4, 2016. (Doc. 9-2 at 61). Plaintiff attended the
hearing with her counsel and provided testimony related to
her claims. (Id. at 66). Plaintiff was granted a
supplemental administrative hearing before Administrative Law
Judge Muth on September 25, 2017. (Id. at 31).
Plaintiff attended the supplemental hearing with her counsel
and provided testimony related to her claims. (Id.
at 35). In addition, a vocational expert (“VE”)
and a medical expert (“ME”) appeared at the
supplemental hearing and provided testimony. (Id. at
45, 51). On January 31, 2018, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision finding that Plaintiff is not disabled.
(Id. at 16). The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review on July 27, 2018.
(Id. at 2). Therefore, the ALJ's decision dated
January 31, 2018, became the final decision of the
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff timely filed
the present civil action. (Doc. 1). Oral argument was
conducted in this case on October 28, 2019. (Doc. 15). This
case is now ripe for judicial review and is properly before
this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and
Issues on Appeal
Whether substantial evidence supports the ALJ's
assignment of weight to the opinion evidence in this
Whether substantial evidence supports the Residual Functional
was born on May 19, 1993, and was twenty-four years of age at
the time of her supplemental administrative hearing on
September 25, 2017. (Doc. 9-2 at 35; Doc. 9-6 at 2).
Plaintiff completed the twelfth grade in high school. (Doc.
9-2 at 35). She has never worked. (Id. at 35).
hearing, Plaintiff testified that she cannot work because she
cannot do things such as open a bottle or squat down and get
back up. (Doc. 9-2 at 67-68). Plaintiff testified that she
has problems with hand and leg pain and that she can only
walk for twenty minutes before needing to lie down and rest.
(Id. at 68). She experiences some tingling in her
hands “every now and then.” (Id. at 75).
On the day of the hearing, Plaintiff testified that her pain
was a four on a ten-point pain scale. (Id. at 69).
She takes Norco for pain, and it helps, with no side effects.
(Id. at 69, 73). Plaintiff also takes insulin for
diabetes, which has improved her symptoms. (Id. at
Standard of Review
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.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).
Statutory and Regulatory Framework
individual who applies for Social Security disability
benefits must prove his or her disability. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1512, 416.912. Disability is defined as 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.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A); see also 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a). The Social Security