United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
C. IRICK, UNITES STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Wayne Montgomery (Claimant) appeals the Commissioner of
Social Security’s final decision denying his
applications for disability benefits. Doc. 1. Claimant argues
that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) erred by: 1)
assigning little weight to Dr. Nila Desai’s opinion;
and 2) failing to properly consider Claimant’s
exertional and nonexertional limitations. Doc. 13 at 5-11.
Claimant requests that the matter be reversed and remanded
for an award of benefits. Id. at 11. For the reasons
set forth below, the Commissioner’s final decision is
case stems from Claimant’s applications for disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income. R.
258-67. Claimant alleged a disability onset date of August 1,
2010. R. 258, 260. On May 8, 2012, the ALJ originally
assigned to this case entered a decision finding that
Claimant was capable of performing light work and could
perform his past relevant work. R. 126-31. Thus, the ALJ
concluded that Claimant was not disabled. R. 132. The Appeals
Council entered a decision on April 22, 2013, finding that
the ALJ erred in determining that Claimant could perform his
past relevant work, and, thus, vacated the ALJ’s
decision and remanded the matter to another ALJ for further
consideration consistent with Appeals Council’s
decision. R. 138-39. Claimant, subsequently, amended his
disability applications to a closed period of disability from
August 1, 2010 to January 1, 2014. R. 47-48.
THE ALJ’S DECISION.
issued the operative decision on November 25, 2014. R. 18-30.
The ALJ found that Claimant had the following severe
impairments during the closed period: a history of human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) without neuropathy; depression;
anxiety; and a history of obesity. R. 21. The ALJ found that
Claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals any listed
impairment. R. 21-22
found that Claimant has the following residual functional
[Claimant can] lift and/or carry up to 20 pounds occasionally
and 10 pounds or less more frequently. He can sit, stand and
walk (with normal breaks) for a total of about 6 hours each
in an 8-hour workday. He could occasionally perform pushing
and/or pulling with arm, hand or foot/pedal controls. He
could occasionally climb ramps and stairs but perform no
climbing of ropes, ladders and scaffolding. He could
frequently balance, sto[o]p, kneel, crouch or crawl. He had
no manipulative limitations in the upper extremities
concerning reaching in all directions, handling, fingering or
feeling. He has no limitations in his ability to hear, speak
or see. He could work in temperature-controlled environments
but has to avoid concentrated exposure to unprotected
heights, vibration or dangerous moving machinery. He was able
to understand, remember and carry out simple and semiskilled
tasks up to an SVP level of 4. He had no limitations in
dealing with people, but has to avoid work requiring that he
meet any strict production goals or quotas such as assembly
line work or work that is paid by the piece.
R. 22-23. The ALJ, in light of this RFC, found that
Claimant was unable to perform his past relevant work. R.
27-28. The ALJ, however, found that Claimant could perform
other work in the national economy, such as mailroom clerk,
office helper, ticket seller, food and beverage clerk, and
surveillance system monitor. R. 28-29. Thus, the ALJ found
that Claimant was not disabled between his alleged onset
date, August 1, 2010, through the date of the decision,
November 25, 2014. R. 29.
STANDARD OF REVIEW.
Social Security appeals, [the court] must determine whether
the Commissioner’s decision is supported by substantial
evidence and based on proper legal standards.”
Winschel v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d
1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (quotations omitted). The
Commissioner’s findings of fact are conclusive if
supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla – i.e.,
the evidence must do more than merely create a suspicion of
the existence of a fact, and must include such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support the conclusion. Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d
1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995) (citing Walden v.
Schweiker, 672 F.2d 835, 838 (11th Cir. 1982) and
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)).
Where 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 evidence
preponderates against the Commissioner’s decision.
Edwards v. Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580, 584 n.3 (11th
Cir. 1991); Barnes v. Sullivan, 932 F.2d 1356, 1358
(11th Cir. 1991). The Court must view the evidence as a
whole, taking into account evidence favorable as well as
unfavorable to the decision. Foote, 67 F.3d at 1560.
The District Court “‘may not decide the facts
anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute [its] judgment for
that of the [Commissioner].’” Phillips v.
Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1240 n.8 (11th Cir. 2004)
(quoting Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239
(11th Cir. 1983)).
maintains that the ALJ’s reasons for assigning little
weight to Dr. Desai’s opinion are not supported by
substantial evidence. Doc. 13 at 5-7. Thus, Claimant argues
that ALJ erred by assigning little weight to Dr.
Desai’s opinion. Id. The Commissioner
maintains that the ALJ provided good cause reasons for
assigning Dr. Desai’s opinion little weight, each of
which are supported by substantial evidence. Doc. 15 at 6-13.
Thus, the Commissioner argues that the ALJ did not err by
assigning little weight to Dr. Desai’s opinion.
assesses the claimant’s RFC and ability to perform past
relevant work at step four of the sequential evaluation
process. Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1238. The RFC
“is an assessment, based upon all of the relevant
evidence, of a claimant’s remaining ability to do work
despite his impairments.” Lewis v. Callahan,
125 F.3d 1436, 1440 (11th Cir. 1997). The ALJ ...