United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division
ORDER, REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
ELIZABETH M. TIMOTHY, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case has been referred to the undersigned magistrate judge
pursuant to the authority of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and
Local Rules 72.1(A), 72.2(D) and 72.3 of this court relating
to review of administrative determinations under the Social
Security Act (“Act”) and related statutes, 42
U.S.C. § 401, et seq. It is now before the
court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the Act for
review of a final determination of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Act, 42 U.S.C.
review of the record before this court, it is the opinion of
the undersigned that the findings of fact and determinations
of the Commissioner are supported by substantial evidence;
thus, the decision of the Commissioner should be affirmed.
18, 2010, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB, and in the
application he alleged disability beginning July 15, 2002
(Tr. 16). His application was denied initially and
on reconsideration, and thereafter Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). A hearing was held on August 14, 2012,
and on August 31, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision in which
she found Plaintiff “not disabled, ” as defined
under the Act, at any time through the date of her decision
(Tr. 16-23). On May 29, 2014, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1). Thus, the
decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner, subject to review in this court. Ingram v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 496 F.3d 1253, 1262
(11th Cir. 2007). This appeal followed.
FINDINGS OF THE ALJ
August 31, 2012, the ALJ made several findings relative to
the issues raised in this appeal (Tr. 16-23):
1) Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the
Act on June 30, 2007.
2) Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity
during the period from his alleged onset date of July 15,
2002, through his date last insured of June 30, 2007.
3) Through the date last insured, Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: recurrent folliculitis, arthritis, post
traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), hypertension,
depression, obesity, and hepatitis.
4) Through the date last insured, 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 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5) Through the date last insured, Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity to perform a range of light or sedentary
work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b). Plaintiff
was limited to simple routine tasks involving no more than
simple and short instructions; simple work-related decisions;
little workplace changes; and occasional interaction with the
general public, coworkers, and supervisors. Plaintiff was
able to concentrate up to two hours at a time.
6) Through the date last insured, Plaintiff was unable to
perform any past relevant work.
7) Plaintiff was born on August 29, 1967, and was 39 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual aged 18-49, on
the date last insured.
8) Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was
able to communicate in English.
9) Transferability of job skills was not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supported a finding
that Plaintiff was “not disabled, ” whether or
not he had transferable job skills.
10) Through the date last insured, considering
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and residual
functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff
could have performed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to
determining whether the decision is supported by substantial
evidence from the record and was a result of the application
of proper legal standards. 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.”);
see also Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439
(11th Cir. 1997); Walker v. Bowen, 826 F.2d 996, 999
(11th Cir. 1987). “A determination that is supported by
substantial evidence may be meaningless . . . if it is
coupled with or derived from faulty legal principles.”
Boyd v. Heckler, 704 F.2d 1207, 1209 (11th Cir.
1983), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated
in Elam v. R.R. Ret. Bd., 921 F.2d 1210, 1214 (11th Cir.
1991). As long as proper legal standards were applied, the
Commissioner's decision will not be disturbed if in light
of the record as a whole the decision appears to be supported
by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Falge
v. Apfel, 150 F.3d 1320, 1322 (11th Cir. 1998);
Lewis, 125 F.3d at 1439; Foote v. Chater,
67 F.3d 1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995). Substantial evidence is
more than a scintilla, but not a preponderance; it is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct.
1420, 1427, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consolidated
Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 59 S.Ct. 206, 217, 83
L.Ed. 126 (1938)); Lewis, 125 F.3d at 1439. 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) (citations omitted). Even if the evidence preponderates
against the Commissioner's decision, the decision must be
affirmed if supported by substantial evidence. Sewell v.
Bowen, 792 F.2d 1065, 1067 (11th Cir. 1986).
defines a 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 claimant is not only 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)-(g), the Commissioner
analyzes a ...