United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division
LEONARD J. AGNELLO, III, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
CHARLES J. KAHN, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
for review of the final determination of the Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying Leonard
Agnello's application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-34. The
parties consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 73 for all proceedings in this case, including
entry of final judgment. Upon review of the record before the
court, I conclude the findings of fact and determinations of
the Commissioner are supported by substantial evidence. The
decision of the Commissioner, therefore, will be affirmed and
the application for DIB will be denied.
Agnello, who will be referred to as claimant, plaintiff, or
by name, raises one issue. He claims the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) erred by discounting the opinion of
treating physician Charles R. Thompson, M.D. (Doc. 9).
October 18, 2011, plaintiff protectively filed an application
for DIB, claiming disability beginning May 15, 2011. T.
The Commissioner denied the application initially and on
reconsideration. T. 86, 98. Claimant appeared before the ALJ
for hearings on August 14, 2013, and March 3, 2014. T. 20,
44. After the second hearing, the ALJ found claimant was not
disabled under the Act. T. 71-81. The Appeals Council denied
a request for further review and, as a result, the ALJ's
decision became the final determination of the Commissioner.
T. 1-3. The determination of the Commissioner is now before
the court for review.
OF THE ALJ
written decision, the ALJ made a number of findings relative
to the issues raised in this appeal:
• Claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 15, 2011, the alleged onset date. T. 73.
• Claimant has the following severe impairments:
orthostatic hypotension, dysautonomia, sinus bradycardia with
sinus arrhythmia, and obesity. T. 73.
• Claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(a) except as follows. He can lift and/or carry 10
pounds occasionally and items of negligible weight
frequently. He can stand and/or walk for 2 hours of an 8-hour
workday, no more than 20 minutes at a time, and sit for 6
hours of an 8-hour workday, no more than 45 minutes at a
time. He can perform occasional pushing and/or pulling with
the upper and lower extremities, bilaterally. He can perform
no balancing, occasional stooping, occasional kneeling,
occasional crouching, occasional crawling, and occasional
climbing of ramps and stairs. He can perform no climbing of
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He can perform occasional
overhead reaching, bilaterally; frequent reaching in other
directions, bilaterally; frequent handling, bilaterally;
continuous fingering, bilaterally; and continuous feeling,
bilaterally. He can tolerate occasional exposure to extreme
heat and occasional exposure to vibration. He must avoid all
exposure to unprotected heights and dangerous machinery. He
can perform occasional operation of motor vehicles. He would
have one unplanned absence per month. He can sustain
concentration and attention for 2-hour periods with customary
breaks. T. 75.
• Claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
• Considering claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that claimant can perform. T. 80.
• Claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Act, from May 15, 2011, through May 21, 2014. T. 81.
federal court reviews the “Commissioner's decision
to determine if it is supported by substantial evidence and
based upon proper legal standards.” Lewis v.
Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir. 1997); see
also Carnes v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1215, 1218 (11th Cir.
1991) (“[T]his Court may reverse the decision of the
[Commissioner] only when convinced that it is not supported
by substantial evidence or that proper legal standards were
not applied.”). Substantial evidence is
“‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct.
1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co.
v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229, 59 S.Ct. 206, 83 L.Ed. 126
(1938)). “Substantial evidence is something ‘more
than a mere scintilla, but less than a
preponderance.'” Dyer v. Barnhart, 395
F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005) (quoting Hale v.
Bowen, 831 F.2d 1007, 1011 (11th Cir. 1987)). Even if
the evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's
decision, the decision must be affirmed if supported by
substantial evidence. See Sewell v. Bowen, 792 F.2d
1065, 1067 (11th Cir. 1986)
reviewing a Social Security disability case, the court
“‘may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the
evidence, or substitute [its] judgment for that of the
[Commissioner.]'” Martin v. Sullivan, 894
F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990) (quoting Bloodsworth v.
Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983)); see
also Hunter v. Soc. Sec. Admin., Comm'r, 808 F.3d
818, 822 (11th Cir. 2015) (“In determining whether
substantial evidence supports a decision, we give great
deference to the ALJ's factfindings.”) (citing
Black Diamond Coal Min. Co. v. Dir., OWCP, 95 F.3d 1079,
1082 (11th Cir. 1996)). The reviewing court, however, may not
look “only to those parts of the record which support
the ALJ[, ]” but instead “must view the entire
record and take account of evidence in the record which
detracts from the evidence relied on by the ALJ.”
Tieniber v. Heckler, 720 F.2d 1251, 1253 (11th Cir.
1983). Review is deferential to a point, but the reviewing
court conducts what has been referred to as “an
independent review of the record.” Flynn v.
Heckler, 768 F.2d 1273, 1273 (11th Cir. 1985).
Social Security Act defines disability as an “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 which has lasted
or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not
less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). To
qualify as a disability, the physical or mental impairment
must be so severe that the plaintiff not only is unable to do
his previous work, “but cannot, considering his age,
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy[.]” Id. § 423(d)(2)(A).
to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4), the Commissioner analyzes