United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
PAUL C. IMPERIAL, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
G. BYORN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Social Security appeal comes before the Court on Magistrate
Judge Gregory J. Kelly's March 28, 2017 Report and
Recommendation. (Doc. 20). Magistrate Judge Kelly recommends
that the Commissioner's final decision be reversed and
remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). On April 10, 2017, the Commissioner filed objections
to the Magistrate Judge's recommended disposition. (Doc.
21). Plaintiff has not responded to the Commissioner's
objections and the time for doing so has passed. This matter
is therefore ripe for review.
working for a cable company at the age of nineteen, Plaintiff
was standing on a ladder when a woman crashed into the ladder
with her car, causing Plaintiff to fall approximately thirty
feet to the ground. (R. 202). Plaintiff broke his pelvis and
wrist and suffered a concussion as a result of the fall.
(Id.). Thirty years following this accident,
Plaintiff's injuries continue to plague him, so much so
that Plaintiff stopped working on October 31, 2012 on account
of his condition. (R. 180, 202-203).
November 30, 2012, at the age of forty-nine, Plaintiff
applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits
under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §
423. (R. 151-155). Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from
chronic neck and back pain and hypothyroidism. After
conducting a hearing, Administrative Law Judge Bernard Porter
(the “ALJ”) entered a decision on January 8, 2015
denying Plaintiff's application, finding that Plaintiff
was not disabled and had the residual functioning capacity to
perform light, unskilled work. (R. 7-28). On June 24, 2016,
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review. (R. 1-6). This appeal ensued, and the parties filed
their Joint Memorandum on February 27, 2017. (Doc. 19).
Joint Memorandum, Plaintiff challenges the ALJ's decision
on three grounds. First, Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ
failed to adequately weigh and consider the opinion of his
treating physician. Second, Plaintiff contends that the ALJ
erred by relying on the testimony of the vocational expert
after posing a hypothetical that did not accurately reflect
Plaintiff's limitations. Third, Plaintiff claims that the
ALJ failed to adequately asses his credibility concerning his
subjective complaints of pain. Plaintiff submits that these
three errors caused the ALJ to reach the incorrect conclusion
that Plaintiff is not disabled.
consideration of the parties' arguments, and after
reviewing the Administrative Record, Magistrate Judge Kelly
submitted the instant Report and Recommendation. Magistrate
Judge Kelly concludes that substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's determinations on the first two grounds raised by
Plaintiff, but that the ALJ erred as to Plaintiff's third
point by failing to adequately assess Plaintiff's
credibility concerning his subjective complaints of pain.
Consequently, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the
ALJ's final decision should be reversed and remanded for
further proceedings. The Commissioner objects to Magistrate
Judge Kelly's recommendation.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Review of the Magistrate Judge's Report and
district judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and
determine both dispositive and non-dispositive matters.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a),
(b). When a magistrate judge has been designated to decide a
matter that is dispositive in nature, as is the case here,
the magistrate judge must issue a report to the district
judge specifying the magistrate judge's proposed findings
of fact and recommended disposition. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1).
Any party who disagrees with the magistrate judge's
recommended decision has fourteen days from the date of the
recommendation to seek the district judge's review by
filing objections to those specific portions of the
recommendation disagreed with. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). The
district judge must then make a de novo determination of each
issue to which objection is made. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De
novo review “require[s] independent consideration of
factual issues based on the record.” Jeffrey S. v.
State Bd. of Educ., 896 F.2d 507, 512 (11th Cir. 1990)
(per curiam). The district judge may then accept, reject, or
modify the magistrate judge's recommendation, receive
additional evidence or briefing from the parties, or return
the matter to the magistrate judge for further review.
Review of the ALJ's Decision
Social Security appeal, the Court's review is limited to
determining whether the ALJ's decision is supported by
substantial evidence in the record and is based on proper
legal standards. Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011).
“Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla and is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Id.
(quoting Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363
F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam)). “[The
Court] may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence,
or substitute [its] judgment for that of the [ALJ].”
Id. (quoting Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d
1232, 1240 n.8 (11th Cir. 2004)). The ALJ's decision must
be affirmed if it is supported by substantial evidence, even
if the Court finds that the evidence more likely supports a
different conclusion. Miles v. Chater, 84 F.3d 1397,
1400 (11th Cir. 1996).
Commissioner objects only to Magistrate Judge Kelly's
conclusion that the ALJ failed to adequately assess
Plaintiff's credibility concerning his subjective