United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
C. IRICK, UNITES STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Robert Murray (Claimant) appeals to the District Court from a
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
his applications for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income benefits. Doc. 1; R. 1-6,
319-26, 334-35. Claimant argues that the Administrative Law
Judge (the ALJ) erred by: 1) failing to properly reject the
opinion of Claimant's treating psychologist, Dr.
Fleischmann; and 2) erroneously relying upon the opinions of
Dr. Bauer, Dr. Klein, and Dr. Magness when finding that
Claimant was capable of performing simple work. Doc. 17 at
15-21, 27-30. For the reasons set forth below, it is
ORDERED that the Commissioner's final
decision is AFFIRMED.
THE ALJ'S DECISION
September 30, 2011, Claimant filed applications for
disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income benefits. R. 319-26, 334-35. Claimant alleged a
disability onset date of November 6, 2008. Id.
issued her decision on February 27, 2015. R. 12-25. In her
decision, the ALJ found that Claimant had the following
severe impairments: obesity, lumbar strain, and attention-
deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). R. 14. The ALJ found
that Claimant had a residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform a reduced range of sedentary work as defined by 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a). R. 16.
Specifically, the ALJ found as follows:
[C]laimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a) except the claimant can lift ten pounds
occasionally and ten frequently; the claimant can stand and
walk for up two hours and sit for up to six hours in an
eight-hour day; he can occasionally climb; he is limited to
performing simple tasks.
R. 16. The ALJ posed a hypothetical question to the
vocational expert (VE) that was consistent with the foregoing
RFC determination,  and the VE testified that Claimant was
capable of performing jobs in the national economy. R. 66-68.
The ALJ thus found that Claimant was capable of performing
jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national
economy. R. 23-24. Therefore, the ALJ found that Claimant was
not disabled between the alleged onset date and the date of
her decision. R. 24.
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) (citations
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)).
Failure to Properly Weigh Treating Physician's
four of the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ assesses
the claimant's RFC and ability to perform past relevant
work. Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1238. “The
residual functional capacity 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 is responsible for determining the claimant's RFC. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1546(c); 416.946(c). In doing so, the
ALJ must consider all relevant evidence, including, but not
limited to, the medical opinions of treating, examining, and
non-examining medical sources. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1545(a)(1), (3); 416.945(a)(1), (3); see also Rosario
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 877 F.Supp.2d 1254, 1265
(M.D. Fla. 2012).
weighing of treating, examining, and non-examining
physicians' opinions is an integral part of steps four
and five of the sequential evaluation process. In
Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d 1176
(11th Cir. 2011), the Eleventh Circuit stated that:
“‘Medical opinions are statements from physicians
and psychologists or other acceptable medical sources that
reflect judgments about the nature and severity of [the
claimant's] impairment(s), including [the claimant's]
symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis, what [the claimant] can
still do despite impairment(s), and [the claimant's]
physical or mental restrictions.'” Id. at
1178-79 (quoting 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(a)(2))
(alterations in original). “[T]he ALJ must state with
particularity the weight given to different medical opinions
and the reasons therefor.” Id. at 1179 (citing
Sharfarz v. Bowen, 825 F.2d 278, 279 (11th Cir.
1987)). “In the absence of such a statement, it is
impossible for a reviewing court to determine whether the
ultimate decision on the merits of the claim is rational and
supported by substantial evidence.” Id.
(quoting Cowart v. Schwieker, 662 F.2d 731, 735
(11th Cir. 1981)).
must consider a number of factors in determining how much
weight to give each medical opinion, including: 1) whether
the physician has examined the claimant; 2) the length,
nature, and extent of the physician's relationship with
the claimant; 3) the medical evidence and explanation
supporting the physician's opinion; 4) how consistent the
physician's opinion is with the record as a whole; and 5)
the physician's specialization. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1527(c); 416.927(c). A treating physician's opinion
must be given substantial or considerable weight, unless good
cause is shown to the contrary. Winschel, 631 F.3d
at 1179; see also 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1527(c)(2); 416.927(c)(2) (giving controlling weight to
the treating physician's opinion unless it is
inconsistent with other substantial evidence). “Good
cause exists when the: (1) treating physician's opinion
was not ...