United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
Sheila Webster, commenced this action on March 9, 2018,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review
of a final adverse decision of the Commissioner, affirming
the decision of the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), and thereby denying her claim for
supplemental security income benefits.
court's role in reviewing claims brought under the Social
Security Act is a narrow one. The scope of review is limited
to determining whether there is substantial evidence in the
record as a whole to support the findings of the
Commissioner, and whether correct legal standards were
applied. See Lamb v. Bowen, 847 F.2d 698, 701 (11th
Cir. 1988); Tieniber v. Heckler, 720 F.2d 1251, 1253
(11th Cir. 1983).
contends that the Commissioner's decision is neither
supported by substantial evidence nor in accordance with
applicable legal standards. Specifically, claimant asserts
that the ALJ improperly evaluated her credibility and
complaints of subjective symptoms. Upon review of the record,
the court concludes that contention lacks merit, and the
Commissioner's ruling is due to be affirmed.
demonstrate that pain or another subjective symptom renders
her disabled, a claimant must “produce ‘evidence
of an underlying medical condition and (1) objective medical
evidence that confirms the severity of the alleged pain
arising from that condition or (2) that the objectively
determined medical condition is of such severity that it can
be reasonably expected to give rise to the alleged
pain.'” Edwards v. Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580,
584 (11th Cir. 1991) (quoting Landry v. Heckler, 782
F.2d 1551, 1553 (11th Cir. 1986)). If an ALJ discredits
subjective testimony of pain, “[s]he must articulate
explicit and adequate reasons.” Hale v. Bowen,
831 F.2d 1007, 1011 (11th Cir. 1987) (citing Jones v.
Bowen, 810 F.2d 1001, 1004 (11th Cir. 1986);
MacGregor v. Bowen, 786 F.2d 1050, 1054 (11th Cir.
1986)) (alteration supplied).
in the present case properly applied these legal principles.
She found that claimant's medically determinable
impairments could reasonably have been expected to produce
some of the symptoms claimant alleged, but that
claimant's statements concerning the intensity,
persistence, and limiting effects of her symptoms were not
entirely consistent with the medical and other evidence in
the record. This conclusion was in accordance with
applicable law. See Marbury v. Sullivan, 957 F.2d
837, 839 (11th Cir. 1992) (“After considering
a claimant's complaints of pain, the ALJ may reject them
as not creditable, and that determination will be reviewed
for substantial evidence.”) (citing Wilson v.
Heckler, 734 F.2d 513, 517 (11th Cir. 1984)) (emphasis
also adequately articulated reasons to support her findings.
She reasoned that claimant's complaints were inconsistent
with the medical evidence, including relatively infrequent
doctor visits and the absence of any assessment of disabling
limitations from a treating or examining
physician. Claimant contends that those findings were
not supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ focused
only on her reports of back pain relief without also
considering her complaints of continued and worsening leg
pain. The record does not support that argument, because the
ALJ's administrative decision discussed both
claimant's reports of relief from back pain and
her complaints of continuing leg pain. The ALJ
considered all of claimant's medical records,
including those in which she reported temporary relief from
treatment and those in which she reported returning symptoms.
The ALJ also considered that objective medical testing
revealed that claimant experienced degenerative disc
disease. Those findings indicate that claimant has
a back condition and likely experiences pain, but the mere
existence of a medical condition, or of some pain resulting
from that condition, does not support a finding of
disability. Instead, the relevant consideration is the effect
of claimant's condition, considered in combination with
any of her other impairments, on her ability to perform
substantial gainful work activities. See 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.905(a) (defining a disability as “the
inability to do 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”). See also Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 (1987) (“The [Social
Security] Act ‘defines “disability” in
terms of the effect a physical or mental impairment has on a
person's ability to function in the
workplace.'”) (quoting Heckler v.
Campbell, 461 U.S. 458, 459-60 (1983)) (alteration
supplied). The record indicates that the functional effects
of claimant's condition were not as great as the level of
symptoms she subjectively alleged. Claimant's clinical
examinations consistently reflected normal gait, station, and
range of motion; full motor strength; and no weakness or
summary, the ALJ properly considered claimant's
subjective complaints. The ALJ's decision, which was
based upon substantial evidence and in accordance with
applicable legal standards, is due to be affirmed. An
appropriate order will be entered contemporaneously herewith.
 Tr. 22.
 Tr. 24.
 Tr. 23.
See Tr. 23, 226, 271-72,