United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MIRANDO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Patricia Paul seeks judicial review of the denial of her
claim for disability and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) by the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (“Commissioner”). The
Court has reviewed the record, the briefs, and the applicable
law. For the reasons set forth herein, the decision of the
Commissioner is REVERSED and this matter is
remanded to the Commissioner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), sentence four.
Issues on Appeal
raises two issues on appeal: (a) whether the administrative
law judge (“ALJ”) properly considered
Plaintiff's Department of Veteran's Affairs
(“VA”) disability rating; and (b) whether the ALJ
properly assessed Plaintiff's credibility.
Summary of the ALJ's Decision
2, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled from December 1, 2013, the alleged onset of
disability, through the date of the decision. Tr. 27. At step
one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31,
2018, and had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since December 1, 2013. Tr. 18. At step two, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
[i]nflammatory arthritis, multiple sclerosis with a history
of left eye optic atrophy and optic neuritis, degenerative
disc disease and facet arthritis of the cervical spine,
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, obesity,
osteoarthritis of the knees with history of effusion,
fibromyalgia syndrome with chronic pain, depressive disorder,
mood disorder, adjustment disorder, post-traumatic stress
disorder, unspecified trauma and stress-related disorder,
anxiety with a history of panic attacks, eating disorder, and
Id. At step three, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff
did not have “an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one
of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1.” Tr. 20. The ALJ then determined that
Plaintiff had the RFC to perform light work with the
[Plaintiff] can lift, push, pull and carry twenty pounds
occasionally and ten pounds on a frequent basis. In addition,
[Plaintiff] can sit for six hours during each eight-hour
workday and stand and walk, in combination, six hours during
each eight-hour workday. However, at one time, [Plaintiff]
can only walk for 30 minutes, stand for 30 minutes, and sit
for 30 minutes. Although [Plaintiff] is precluded from
climbing ladders, ropes, stairs, and scaffolds, she can
occasionally climb ramps. Similarly, [Plaintiff] is limited
to occasional stooping and can not perform repetitive
stooping below the waist. She can never engage in kneeling,
crouching, and crawling. [Plaintiff] is also precluded from
overhead reaching. [Plaintiff] can frequently engage in
handling and fingering. She is precluded from commercial
driving. She must have no exposure to unprotected heights and
dangerous machinery. [Plaintiff] is limited to simple,
routine, and repetitive work that require[s] no more than
occasional interaction with the public and with co-workers.
[Plaintiff] is limited to work that allows her to be off-task
ten percent of the workday in addition to regularly scheduled
Tr. 22. Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable to
perform any past relevant work. Tr. 25. Considering
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience and RFC, the
ALJ determined there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform
and therefore concluded she was not disabled. Tr. 26-27.
Standard of Review ]
scope of this Court's review is limited to determining
whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and
whether the findings are supported by substantial evidence.
McRoberts v. Bowen, 841 F.2d 1077, 1080 (11th Cir.
1988) (citing Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
390 (1971)). The Commissioner's findings of fact are
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b), 416.967(b).
405(g). Substantial evidence is “more than a
scintilla, i.e., evidence that must do more than
create a suspicion of the existence of the fact to be
established, and such relevant evidence as a reasonable
person would accept as adequate to support the
conclusion.” Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d 1553,
1560 (11th Cir. 1995) (internal citations omitted).
Eleventh Circuit has restated that “[i]n determining
whether substantial evidence supports a decision, we give
great deference to the ALJ's fact findings.”
Hunter v. Soc. Sec. Admin., Comm'r, 808 F.3d
818, 822 (11th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). Where 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 or found that the preponderance of the evidence is
against the Commissioner's decision. Edwards v.
Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580, 584 n.3 (11th Cir. 1991);
Barnes v. Sullivan, 932 F.2d 1356, 1358 (11th Cir.
1991); see also Lowery v. Sullivan, 979 F.2d 835,
837 (11th Cir. 1992) (stating that the court must scrutinize
the entire record to determine the reasonableness of the
factual findings). The Court reviews the Commissioner's
conclusions of law under a de novo standard of
review. Ingram v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin.,
496 F.3d 1253, 1260 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing Martin v.
Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990)).
Whether the ALJ properly considered Plaintiff's ...