United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
OPINION AND ORDER 
R. KLINDT United States Magistrate Judge.
Rae Beighley (“Plaintiff”) is appealing the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration's
final decision denying her claim for disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income
(“SSI”). Plaintiff's alleged inability to
work is the result of psoriatic arthritis, scoliosis,
fibromyalgia, spondylitis, degenerative disc disease, bipolar
disorder, and “severe back pain.” Transcript of
Administrative Proceedings (Doc. No. 12; “Tr.” or
“administrative transcript”), filed October 4,
2016, at 49, 60, 73, 84, 229 (emphasis omitted). On November
2, 2011, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI,
alleging an onset of disability date of June 10, 2010. Tr. at
49 (DIB), 60 (SSI). Plaintiff's applications were denied
initially, Tr. at 49-59, 72, 97-102 (DIB); Tr. at 60-70, 71,
103-09 (SSI), and on reconsideration, Tr. at 73-83, 95,
113-18 (DIB); Tr. at 84-94, 96, 119-24 (SSI).
October 10, 2013, an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) held a hearing at which the ALJ heard
testimony from Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, and
a vocational expert (“VE”). Tr. at 24-48. On
October 24, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff
disabled through the date of the decision. Tr. at 16-22. On
December 16, 2013, the Appeals Council (“AC”)
sent Plaintiff a letter notifying Plaintiff that the AC was
reviewing the ALJ's decision because “[it] found
that the [D]ecision is not supported by substantial
evidence.” Tr. at 172; see Tr. 172-78. The
letter advised Plaintiff that the AC planned to issue a
decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. at 173.
April 22, 2014, the AC reversed the ALJ's finding that
the Plaintiff was disabled and issued a decision that became
the final decision of the Commissioner. Tr. at 4-9.
Plaintiff timely appealed the AC's decision to the United
States District Court for the Middle District of
Florida. On December 8, 2015, the Court reversed
and remanded the decision to the Commissioner. Tr. at 532-39.
On April 25, 2016, on remand, the AC again found Plaintiff
not disabled through the date of the ALJ's original
decision, and issued a Decision that became the final
decision of the Commissioner. Tr. at 521-28. On June 28,
2016, Plaintiff commenced this action under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) by timely filing a
Complaint (Doc. No. 1), seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision.
raises two issues on appeal: (1) “[w]hether the
Commissioner erred in determining that [Plaintiff] has the
residual functional capacity [(“RFC”)] to perform
light work after providing more weight to the opinions of
non-examining state agency physicians than any examining or
treating physician, and failing to adequately consider all of
the pertinent evidence in the record”; and (2)
“[w]hether the Commissioner erred in determining that
[Plaintiff] has the [RFC] to perform light work after failing
to adequately assess [Plaintiff's] credibility when she
suffered from pain caused from psoriatic arthritis and a back
condition.” Plaintiff's Brief Addressing the Merits
of Appeal (Doc. No. 17; “Pl.'s Brief”), filed
December 5, 2016, at 2-3, 11-21 (argument as to first issue),
22-25 (argument as to second issue). On January 31, 2017,
Defendant filed a Memorandum in Support of the
Commissioner's Decision (Doc. No. 19; “Def.'s
Mem.”) addressing the issues raised by Plaintiff. After
a thorough review of the entire record and consideration of
the parties' respective filings, the undersigned finds
the Commissioner's final decision is due to be reversed
and remanded for further administrative proceedings.
The AC's Decision
determining whether an individual is disabled,  an ALJ, or the
AC, 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
on remand, the AC followed the five-step sequential inquiry
in the Decision. See Tr. at 526-28. At step one, the
AC determined that “[Plaintiff] has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since June 10, 2010 [(the
alleged onset date)].” Tr. at 527 (citations omitted).
At step two, the AC found that “[Plaintiff] has the
following severe impairments: psoriatic arthritis,
tuberculosis, disorders of the spine, fibromyalgia, and
obesity.” Tr. at 527 (citations omitted). At step
three, the AC ascertained that “[Plaintiff] does not
have an impairment or combination of impairments which is
listed in, or which is medically equal to an impairment
listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.” Tr.
at 527 (citation omitted).
determined that Plaintiff has the following RFC:
“[Plaintiff can] perform the full range of the work at
the light exertional level.” Tr. at 527 (citation
omitted). At step four, the AC found “[Plaintiff] is
unable to perform any past relevant work because the physical
demands of those jobs exceeded [Plaintiff's RFC] for a
full range of light work.” Tr. at 527 (citations
five, after considering Plaintiff's age (“32 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual”),
education (“a high school education”), work
experience, and RFC, the ALJ found that “there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that [Plaintiff] could perform during the period at
issue.” Tr. at 527-28 (citations omitted). The AC
concluded that “[Plaintiff was] not disabled . . . at
any time from her alleged onset date, June 10, 2010, through
the date of the [ALJ's] decision . . . .” Tr. at
Standard of Review
Court reviews the Commissioner's final decision as to
disability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). 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
Cir. 1991) (citation omitted); see also McRoberts v.
Bowen, 841 F.2d 1077, 1080 (11th Cir. 1988); Walker
v. Bowen, 826 F.2d 996, 999 (11th Cir. 1987). The
decision reached by the Commissioner must be affirmed if it
is supported by substantial evidence-even if the evidence
preponderates against the Commissioner's findings.
Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155,
1158-59 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam).
indicated above, Plaintiff raises two issues before this
Court. The first concerns the AC's assessment of the
medical opinions, and the second concerns the AC's basis
for the credibility finding. See Pl.'s Brief at
11-25. Two observations are critical in addressing these
issues. First, the ALJ's decision reflects that the
ALJ's finding of disability was mostly based on
Plaintiff's “limited range of daily activities,
” and Plaintiff's inability to take Enbrel (a
medication that helps relieve Plaintiff's pain) due to
its incompatibility with her tuberculosis medication.
See Tr. at 20. Second, in disagreeing with the
ALJ's decision, the AC partly relied on Plaintiff's
ability to perform certain activities of daily living but, in
doing so, failed to consider the record as a whole, including
activities Plaintiff is unable to perform and the fact that
Plaintiff stopped taking Enbrel. See Tr. at 524-25.
This affected both the AC's credibility determination and
the AC's assessment of the medical opinions.
addressing the issues in detail, the undersigned first sets
out the applicable law. Then, the undersigned discusses the
AC's credibility determination, followed by the AC's
assessment of the medical opinions.
establish a disability based on testimony of pain or other
subjective symptoms, a claimant must satisfy two parts of a
three-part test showing: (1) evidence of any underlying
medical condition; and (2) either (a) objective medical
evidence confirming the severity of the alleged subjective
symptoms; or (b) that the objectively determined medical
condition can reasonably be expected to give rise to the
claimed subjective symptoms. Wilson v. Barnhart, 284
F.3d 1219, 1225 (11th Cir. 2002) (citing Holt v.
Sullivan, 921 F.2d 1221, 1223 (11th Cir. 1991) (stating
that “the standard also applies to complaints of
subjective symptoms other than pain”)). “The
claimant's subjective testimony supported by medical
evidence that satisfies the standard is itself sufficient to
support a finding of disability.” Holt, 921
F.2d at 1223.
determinations are the province of the [administrative
judge].” Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208,
1212 (11th Cir. 2005). The administrative judge “must
articulate explicit and adequate reasons” for finding a
claimant “not credible.” Wilson, 284
F.3d at 1225. “When evaluating a claimant's
subjective symptoms, the [administrative judge] must consider
things such as (1) the claimant's daily activities; (2)
the nature, location, onset, duration, frequency, radiation,
and intensity of pain and other symptoms; (3) precipitating
and aggravating factors; (4) adverse side effects of
medications; and (5) treatment or measures taken by the
claimant for relief of symptoms.” Davis v.
Astrue, 287 F. App'x 748, 760 (11th Cir. 2008)
(unpublished) (citing 20 C.F.R. §
404.1529(c)(3)(i)-(vi)). After considering the claimant's
subjective complaints, “the ...