Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mosher v. Colvin

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division

March 28, 2017

MARK MOSHER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER[1]

          JAMES R. KLINDT United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Status

         Mark Mosher (“Plaintiff”) is appealing the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration's final decision denying his claim for supplemental security income (“SSI”). Plaintiff's alleged inability to work is the result of panic disorder, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), and “back/neck injury.” Transcript of Administrative Proceedings (Doc. No. 15; “Tr.” or “administrative transcript”), filed December 14, 2015, at 438. Plaintiff filed his SSI application on May 5, 2011, when he was eighteen (18) years old, alleging an onset date of January 1, 2008. Tr. at 405. Plaintiff's application was denied initially, Tr. at 182-83, and upon reconsideration, Tr. at 189-90.

         Hearings were held before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on May 16, 2013, Tr. at 97-128, and on August 22, 2013, Tr. at 63-96. At the May 16, 2013 hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from a vocational expert (“VE”) and from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel. Tr. at 97-128. At the August 22, 2013 hearing, the ALJ again heard from Plaintiff and the VE, and a medical expert also testified. Tr. at 63-96. The ALJ subsequently denied Plaintiff's claim in a decision issued on September 12, 2013. Tr. at 152-69. Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council. Tr. at 299.

         On May 27, 2014, the Appeals Council remanded the case back to the ALJ, primarily on the basis that the ALJ had failed to address the opinion from treating physician Ulyssess D. Findley, M.D. Tr. at 177-78. Pursuant to the Appeals Council's Order, the ALJ held another hearing on December 4, 2014, at which the ALJ heard testimony from a VE and from Plaintiff, who was still represented by counsel. Tr. at 43-62. On January 23, 2015, the ALJ issued a Decision finding Plaintiff not disabled “since May 2, 2011, the date the application was filed, ” and denying Plaintiff's claim. Tr. at 35; see Tr. at 14-35. The January 23, 2015 Decision “adopt[ed] and incorporate[d]” the summary of the medical evidence from the September 12, 2013 decision.[2] Tr. at 21.

         Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council, Tr. at 10, and submitted to the Council additional evidence in the form of a brief from his attorney, Tr. at 8; see Tr. at 519-20 (brief). On April 27, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's January 23, 2015 Decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Tr. at 4-6. On September 3, 2015, Plaintiff commenced this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), as incorporated by § 1383(c)(3), by timely filing a Complaint (Doc. No. 1), seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision.

         Plaintiff raises one issue on appeal: whether the ALJ “erred by not placing the appropriate weight on the opinions of [Plaintiff's] treating psychiatrist.” Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of Complaint (Doc. No. 19; “Pl.'s Mem.”), filed January 5, 2016, at 8 (capitalization omitted). Plaintiff argues that the ALJ had no proper basis to discount the only treating opinion regarding mental impairments, having also discounted the non-examining medical opinions. See id. at 8-12. Defendant filed a Memorandum in Support of the Commissioner's Decision (Doc. No. 20; “Def.'s Mem.”) on April 6, 2016. After a thorough review of the entire record and the parties' respective memoranda, the undersigned finds that the Commissioner's final decision is due to be affirmed for the reasons discussed below.

         II. The ALJ's Decision

         When determining whether an individual is disabled, [3] an ALJ must follow the five-step sequential inquiry set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (“Regulations”), determining as appropriate whether the claimant (1) is currently employed or engaging in substantial gainful activity; (2) has a severe impairment; (3) has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one listed in the Regulations; (4) can perform past relevant work; and (5) retains the ability to perform any work in the national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920; see also Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1237 (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).

         Here, the ALJ followed the five-step inquiry. See Tr. at 16-35. At step one, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff “has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 2, 2011, the application date.” Tr. at 16 (emphasis and citation omitted). At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff “has the following severe impairments: disorders of the spine including degenerative disk disease of the cervical spine, spondylosis, bulging or herniated disks at ¶ 5-6 and C6-7, resulting in mild spinal stenosis and neural foraminal stenosis; degenerative disk disease of the lumbar spine, spondylosis, bulging or herniated disk at ¶ 4-5 and L5-S1, resulting in mild neural foraminal stenosis; hypertension; affective disorder, [and] anxiety[.]” Tr. at 16-17 (emphasis and citation omitted). At step three, the ALJ ascertained that Plaintiff “does 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.” Tr. at 17 (emphasis and citation omitted).

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following residual functional capacity (“RFC”):

[Plaintiff can] perform light work . . . . [He] needs a sit-stand option. This means [he] needs the opportunity to change positions from sitting to standing at his option, to perform his tasks. He needs to avoid ladders and unprotected heights. He needs to avoid the operation of heavy moving machinery. He needs a low stress work environment with no production line. He needs simple tasks and must avoid contact with the public. He can occasionally bend, crouch, kneel, or stoop but m[u]st avoid squatting or crawling. He needs to avoid repetitive twisting of the spine and he needs to avoid extreme heat or cold.

         Tr. at 19 (emphasis omitted). At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff “is unable to perform any past relevant work” as a kitchen helper. Tr. at 33 (emphasis and citation omitted). At step five, the ALJ considered Plaintiff's age (eighteen (18) years old on the date the application was filed), “limited education, ” work experience, and RFC, and the ALJ determined that “there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that [Plaintiff] can perform.” Tr. at 33-34 (emphasis and citation omitted). Relying on the testimony of the VE, the ALJ identified as representative jobs a labeler, a warehouse checker, a table worker, and an addresser. Tr. at 34. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff “has not been not under a disability . . . since May 2, 2011, the date the application was filed.” Tr. at 26 (emphasis and citation omitted).

         III. Standard of Review

         This Court reviews the Commissioner's final decision as to disability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). Although no deference is given to the ALJ's conclusions of law, findings of fact “are conclusive if . . . supported by ‘substantial evidence.'” Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th Cir. 2001) (citing Falge v. Apfel, 150 F.3d 1320, 1322 (11th Cir. 1998)). “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)). The substantial evidence standard is met when there is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Falge, 150 F.3d at 1322 (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). It is not for this Court to reweigh the evidence; rather, the entire record is reviewed to determine whether “the decision reached is reasonable and supported by substantial evidence.” Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145 (11th ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.