United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
B. SMITH United States Magistrate Judge.
brings this action pursuant to the Social Security Act
(“Act”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to
obtain judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying her claim for disability
insurance benefits under the Act. Upon a review of the
record, and after due consideration, the Commissioner's
final decision is AFFIRMED, pursuant to
sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
filed for benefits on May 30, 2012, alleging an onset date of
July 15, 2009 (Tr. 172-73). Plaintiff claimed that she was
disabled due to fibromyalgia (Tr. 206), depression, and pain
(Tr. 13). Her date last insured was December 31, 2014 (Tr.
application was denied initially and on reconsideration, and
Plaintiff requested and received a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) (Tr.104-09;
113-118; 1-34). In a decision dated April 3, 2014, the ALJ
found Plaintiff not disabled through the date of her decision
(Tr. 62-83). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review on September 15, 2015 (Tr. 35-41).
Accordingly, the ALJ's April 2014 decision is the final
decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted the available administrative remedies, Plaintiff
filed this action for judicial review (Doc. 1). The matter is
fully briefed and ripe for resolution.
determining whether an individual is disabled, the ALJ must
follow the five-step sequential evaluation process
established by the Social Security Administration and set
forth in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4) and
416.920(a)(4). Specifically, the ALJ must determine whether
the plaintiff (1) is currently employed; (2) has a severe
impairment; (3) has an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals an impairment
listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1; (4) can
perform past relevant work; and (5) retains the ability to
perform any work in the national economy. See Phillips v.
Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1237-1240 (11th Cir. 2004). The
plaintiff bears the burden of persuasion through step four
and, at step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner.
Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n. 5 (1987);
Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1241 n.10.
the ALJ performed the required five-step sequential analysis.
At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her July 15, 2009 alleged
onset date (Tr. 67). At step two, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff had the severe impairment of fibromyalgia (20 CFR
404.1520(c)) (Tr. 67), but found her medically determinable
mental impairment of depression/mood disorder to be
non-severe (Tr. 68). At step three, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff did 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 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526) (Tr.
69). Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to:
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b), with the
following limitations. The claimant can lift/carry 20 pounds
occasionally, and 10 pounds frequently. She can stand/walk
six hours out of an eight-hour workday, and sit six hours out
of an eight-hour workday. She is limited to occasionally
climbing ramps/stairs, balancing, stooping, kneeling,
crouching, and crawling. She never should climb ladders,
ropes or scaffolds.
four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was capable of
performing her past relevant work as a patient insurance
clerk, interpreter, specimen processor, accident insurance
clerk, and phlebotomist (Tr. 76), and made alternative
findings at step five, that there are other jobs existing in
the national economy that Plaintiff was able to perform (Tr.
77). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had not
been under a disability from July 15, 2009, through the date
of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 78).
scope of the Court's review is limited to determining
whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and
whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial
evidence. Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363
F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004). Findings of fact are
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Substantial evidence is “more than a
scintilla but less than a preponderance. It is such relevant
evidence that a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Winschel v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011)
the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence the district court will affirm even if the reviewer
would have reached a contrary result as finder of fact, and
even if the reviewer finds that the preponderance of the
evidence is against the Commissioner's decision.
Miles v. Chater, 84 F.3d 1397, 1400 (11th Cir.
1996). The district court “may not decide facts anew,
reweigh the evidence, or substitute our judgment for that of
the [Commissioner.]” Id. "The district
court must view the record as a whole, taking into account
evidence favorable as well as unfavorable to the
decision." Foote v. Chater,67 F.3d 1553, 1560
(11th Cir. 1995) (per ...