United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
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 and Supplemental Security Income under the
Act. Upon a review of the record, I respectfully recommend
that the Commissioner's final decision in this case be
AFFIRMED, pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §
filed for benefits on June 6, 2012, alleging disability
commencing on April 4, 2010, due to depression, lumbar
herniated disc, cervical bulge discs, migraine, mitral valve
prolapse, and s/p heart attack (Tr. 242-248, 264-269, 306,
310). Her applications were denied initially and on
reconsideration, and she requested and received a hearing
before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) (Tr.
46-81, 161). On January 2, 2015, a supplemental hearing was
held (Tr. 33-45). On February 20, 2015, the ALJ found
Plaintiff not disabled and issued his unfavorable decision
(Tr. 9-32). Plaintiff was 47 years old, 5 feet, 2 inches
tall, and weighed 122 pounds when the ALJ handed down his
adverse decision (Tr. 17). She has a master's degree in
nursing, certification as a nurse anesthetist, and past
employment as a nurse (Doc. 15 at 3).
26, 2016, the Appeals Council of the Social Security
Administration denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr.
1-4). Accordingly, the ALJ's decision became the
Commissioner's final decision. Having exhausted her
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 claimant (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
claimant 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 alleged onset date
(Tr. 14). At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had
the severe impairments of: affective disorder, degenerative
disc disease, migraines, mitral valve prolapse and history of
myocardial infarction (20 CFR § 404.1520(c) and §
At step three, the ALJ determined 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.
15). Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work
as defined in 20 CFR § 404.1567(b) and § 416.967(b)
with limitations that included that “she is able to
lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently;
sit for 30 minutes at one [time] for a total of 6 hours in an
8-hour workday.” (Tr. 17). At step four, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff was unable to return to her past
relevant work (Tr. 25). Then, considering Plaintiff's
age, education, work experience, and RFC, and relying on the
testimony of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff could perform other jobs including assembler,
electrical accessories I, surveillance system monitor, and
addresser that exist in the national economy (Tr. 26).
Therefore, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled from April 4,
2010, through the date of the decision (Tr. 26-7).
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 curiam); accord Lowery v.
Sullivan, 979 F.2d 835, 837 (11th Cir. 1992) (the court
must scrutinize the entire record to determine the
reasonableness of the factual findings).
contends that the ALJ did not apply the correct legal
standards in evaluating the opinion of treating physician
Jeff Kidd, M.D., and that the reasons the ALJ gave for
according Dr. Kidd's opinions “little weight,
” are not supported by substantial evidence
(Id., at 11). Plaintiff saw Dr. Kidd about once a
month for pain management (Doc. 15 at 6; Tr. 18). She
testified that she was taking Ibuprofen, Roxicodone,
Morphine, Mobic, Imitrex, Valium, Wellbutrin and Lexapro (Tr.
18). Plaintiff rated her pain at a two on a scale of one to
ten when ...