United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
S. SNEED UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Rachael Terranova, seeks judicial review of the denial of her
claim for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and § 1383(c)(3). As
the Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”)
decision was based on substantial evidence and employed
proper legal standards, the decision is affirmed.
filed an application for SSI on November 27, 2012. (Tr. 14,
167-168.) The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's claims both
initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 75-80, 86- 90.)
Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing. (Tr.
91-92.) Upon Plaintiff's request, the ALJ held a hearing
at which Plaintiff appeared and testified. (Tr. 31-49.)
Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision
finding Plaintiff not disabled and accordingly denied
Plaintiff's claims for benefits. (Tr. 11-26.)
Subsequently, Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals
Council, which the Appeals Council denied. (Tr. 1-8.)
Plaintiff then timely filed a complaint with this Court.
(Dkt. 1) The case is now ripe for review under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3).
Factual Background and the ALJ's Decision
who was born in March 1994, claimed disability beginning on
August 1, 2012. (Tr. 142-150.) Plaintiff has a high school
education. (Tr. 24, 35.) Plaintiff has no past relevant work
experience. (Tr. 16, 38-39, 171-173.) Plaintiff alleged
disability due to bipolar disorder, depression, social
phobia, anxiety, asthma, and allergies. (Tr. 171.)
rendering the decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had
not performed substantial gainful activity since November 27,
2012, the application date. (Tr. 16.) After conducting a
hearing and reviewing the evidence of record, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: affective disorder, anxiety disorder, substance
addiction disorder, and asthma. (Tr. 16.) Notwithstanding the
noted impairments, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not
have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 16-18.) The ALJ then
concluded that Plaintiff retained a residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of work
at all exertional levels, but with the following
non-exertional limitations: she must avoid concentrated
exposure to irritants, fumes, odors, dusts, and gases, and
she can perform unskilled simple, routine, repetitive tasks
with only occasional contact with the public, co-workers, and
supervisors. (Tr. 18-23.) In formulating Plaintiff's RFC,
the ALJ considered Plaintiff's subjective complaints and
determined that, although the evidence established the
presence of underlying impairments that reasonably could be
expected to produce the symptoms alleged, Plaintiff's
statements as to the intensity, persistence, and limiting
effects of her symptoms were not fully credible. (Tr. 18-23.)
noted, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have any
past relevant work. (Tr. 24.) Given Plaintiff's
background and RFC, the vocational expert (“VE”)
testified that Plaintiff could perform other jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy, such as laundry
laborer, sweeper/cleaner, and mail clerk. (Tr. 25.)
Accordingly, based on Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, RFC, and the testimony of the VE, the ALJ found
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 14-26.)
entitled to benefits, a claimant must be disabled, meaning
that the claimant must be unable to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result
in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a
continuous period of not less than twelve months. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). A “physical
or mental impairment” is an impairment that results
from anatomical, physiological, or psychological
abnormalities that are demonstrable by medically acceptable
clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(3), 1382c(a)(3)(D).
Social Security Administration
(“Administration”), in order to regularize the
adjudicative process, promulgated the detailed regulations
currently in effect. These regulations establish a
“sequential evaluation process” to determine
whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. If
an individual is found disabled at any point in the
sequential review, further inquiry is unnecessary. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a). Under this process, the ALJ must
determine, in sequence, the following: (1) whether the
claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful
activity; (2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment,
i.e., one that significantly limits the ability to perform
work-related functions; (3) whether the severe impairment
meets or equals the medical criteria of 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1; and, (4) whether the claimant can
perform her past relevant work. If the claimant cannot
perform the tasks required of her prior work, step five of
the evaluation requires the ALJ to decide if the claimant can
do other work in the national economy in view of the
claimant's age, education, and work experience. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a). A claimant is entitled to benefits only if
unable to perform other work. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482
U.S. 137, 140-42 (1987); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(g).
determination by the Commissioner that a claimant is not
disabled must be upheld if it is supported by substantial
evidence and comports with applicable legal standards.
See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)
(quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197,
229 (1938)); Miles v. Chater, 84 F.3d 1397, 1400
(11th Cir. 1996). While the court reviews the
Commissioner's decision with deference to the factual
findings, no such deference is given to the legal
conclusions. Keeton v. Dep't of Health & Human
Servs., 21 F.3d 1064, 1066 (11th Cir. 1994).
reviewing the Commissioner's decision, the court may not
decide the facts anew, re-weigh the evidence, or substitute
its own judgment for that of the ALJ, even if it finds that
the evidence preponderates against the ALJ's decision.
Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th
Cir. 1983). The Commissioner's failure to apply the
correct law, or to give the reviewing court sufficient
reasoning for determining that he or she has conducted the
proper legal analysis, mandates reversal. Keeton, 21
F.3d at 1066. The scope of review is thus limited to
determining whether the findings of the Commissioner are