United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. BURKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
22, 2018, the Plaintiff Elzora Fluker filed a complaint (Doc.
1) seeking judicial review of an adverse final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“the Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). The Commissioner filed an answer to the complaint on
September 11, 2018. (Doc. 6). The Plaintiff filed a brief in
support of her position on October 24, 2018, (Doc. 9) and the
Commissioner filed a brief in support of the decision on
November 27, 2018. (Doc. 11). Therefore, this issue is ripe
for review. For the reasons stated below, the final decision
of the Commissioner is affirmed.
Plaintiff protectively filed for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits on May 13, 2015. (R. 15). She
alleged that her disability began on April 13, 2015.
Id. Her claim for benefits was denied on July 2,
2015, and the Plaintiff subsequently filed a request for a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) on July 30, 2015. Id. The
Plaintiff appeared before ALJ Renee Blackmon Hagler through a
video hearing on April 10, 2017. Id. The Plaintiff
testified at the hearing and was questioned by her attorney
and the ALJ. (R. 35, 46). Additionally, vocational expert
Otis Pearson testified at the hearing. (R. 49). The ALJ
issued her opinion on July 3, 2017. (R. 26). When she issued
her opinion, the ALJ used the five-step evaluation process
promulgated by the Social Security Administration to
determine whether an individual is disabled. (R. 16). The ALJ
made the following determinations:
1. The Plaintiff meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through June 30, 2019. (R. 17).
2. The Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 13, 2015, the alleged onset date of the
3. The Plaintiff has the following severe impairments:
asthma, degenerative joint disease of the left ankle,
diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Id.
4. The Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1. (R. 21).
5. The Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a) except she can occasionally lift 10
pounds. The Plaintiff can: push and pull as much as she can
carry; sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday; stand for
two hours and walk for two hours; operate foot controls
bilaterally on no more than an occasional basis; occasionally
climb ramps and stairs; and frequently stoop, kneel, crouch,
or crawl. The Plaintiff cannot: climb ladders; work at
unprotected heights; work with dust, fumes, or pulmonary
irritants; or work at extreme cold temperatures. (R. 22).
6. The Plaintiff can perform past relevant work as a county
commissioner, a position consistent with Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (“DOT”) #188.117-114. (R.
7. The Plaintiff has not been under a disability as defined
in the Social Security Act, from April 13, 2015 through the
date of the ALJ's decision on July 3, 2017. Id.
the ALJ denied her claim, the Plaintiff requested an appeal
to the Appeals Council and was denied on March 29, 2018. (R.
1). At that point, the ALJ's decision became the final
decision of the Commissioner. Henry v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 802 F.3d 1264, 1267 (11th Cir. 2015). The
Plaintiff filed this action on May 22, 2018. (Doc. 1).
Social Security Administration (“SSA”) is
authorized to pay Supplemental Security Insurance
(“SSI”) and disability insurance to claimants
that have a disability. Washington v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 906 F.3d 1353, 1358 (11th Cir. 2018). Title II of
the Social Security Act defines disability 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 that
has lasted or ...