United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Marcus Hood appeals the decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security denying his claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits. Based on the court's
review of the administrative record and the parties'
briefs, the court WILL REVERSE the
Hood applied for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits on September 20, 2012, alleging that his
disability began on December 18, 2010. (R.
159). The Commissioner denied Mr. Hood's
claim on September 28, 2012. (R. 72). Mr. Hood filed a
request for reconsideration of the Commissioner's
decision, and the Commissioner denied the request. (R.
76-82). Mr. Hood then requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (R. 83-84). On August 23,
2013, the ALJ dismissed Mr. Hood's request for a hearing.
7, 2015, the Appeals Council granted Mr. Hood's request
for review of the ALJ's dismissal, vacated the ALJ's
order of dismissal, and remanded the case for further
administrative proceedings. (R. 34). The ALJ conducted a
hearing, and on April 11, 2016, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision. (R. 37- 52). On December 15, 2016, the Appeals
Council granted Mr. Hood's request for review and
remanded the case again. (R. 58-59).
holding another hearing, the ALJ issued another unfavorable
decision on February 22, 2018. (R. 15-31). On September 20,
2018, the Appeals Council declined Mr. Hood's request for
review. (R. 9). The Commissioner's decision is now final
and ripe for judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. §
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court's role in reviewing claims brought under the Social
Security Act is a narrow one. The court “must determine
whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence and based on proper legal
standards.” Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). “Under the
substantial evidence standard, this court will affirm the
ALJ's decision if there exists ‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Henry v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 802 F.3d 1264, 1267 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178). The court may not
“decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, ”
or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178 (internal quotations and
citation omitted). The court must affirm “[e]ven if the
evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
findings.” Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158-59 (11th Cir. 2004) (per
curiam) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
the deferential standard for review of claims, the court must
“‘scrutinize the record as a whole to determine
if the decision reached is reasonable and supported by
substantial evidence.'” Henry, 802 F.3d at
1267 (quoting MacGregor v. Bowen, 786 F.2d 1050,
1053 (11th Cir. 1986)). Moreover, the court must reverse the
Commissioner's decision if the ALJ does not apply the
correct legal standards. Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936
F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
determine whether an individual is disabled, an ALJ follows a
five-step sequential evaluation process. The ALJ considers:
(1) whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
gainful activity; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment meets or equals the severity of the specified
impairments in the Listing of Impairments; (4) based on a
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) assessment,
whether the claimant can perform any of his or his past
relevant work despite the impairment; and (5) whether there
are significant numbers of jobs in the national economy that
the claimant can perform given the claimant's RFC, age,
education, and work experience.
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178.
the ALJ determined that Mr. Hood has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since December 18, 2010, the
alleged onset date, through September 30, 2011, his date last
insured. (R. 21). The ALJ found that Mr. Hood has the
following severe impairments: tinnitus with bilateral hearing
loss; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); left carpal
collapse; bilateral tendinitis of the hands; adjustment
order; and cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol dependence, all in
remission. (R. 21). The ALJ found that Mr. Hood suffers from
the following non-severe impairments: low back pain;
degenerative joint disease of the right knee; hypertension;
and flat feet. (R. 21). The ALJ then concluded that Mr. Hood
does not ...