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Jackson v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

November 8, 2017

CRAIG JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CAROL MIRANDO, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Craig Jackson seeks judicial review of the denial of his claims for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”) by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”). The Court has reviewed the record, the briefs and the applicable law. For the reasons discussed herein, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.[1]

         I. Issue on Appeal[2]

         Plaintiff raises one issue on appeal: whether the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) properly assessed medical source opinions.

         II. Summary of the ALJ's Decision

         On April 10, 2012, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI, alleging his disability began February 2, 2012 due to tardive dyskinesia and bipolar disorder. Tr. 74, 219. On March 27, 2015, ALJ Joseph L. Brinkley issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 14-22. At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on February 2, 2012, the alleged onset date, and remained insured throughout the period of the decision. Tr. 16.

The ALJ also found Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 2, 2012. Id. Although the ALJ determined Plaintiff has several severe impairments, he concluded that Plaintiffs condition “has not met or medically equaled a listing in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.” Tr. 16-17. The ALJ then held Plaintiff has the RFC to perform light work[3] with certain limitations. Tr. 17.

Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has been unable to perform his past relevant work. Tr. 21. The ALJ found a significant number of jobs existed for Plaintiff in the national economy within twelve months of February 2, 2012. Id.

         III. Standard of Review

         The scope of this Court's review is limited to determining whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and whether the findings are supported by substantial evidence. McRoberts v. Bowen, 841 F.2d 1077, 1080 (11th Cir. 1988) (citing Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971)). The Commissioner's findings of fact are conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).[4] Substantial evidence is “more than a scintilla, i.e., evidence that must do more than create a suspicion of the existence of the fact to be established, and 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) (internal citations omitted).

         The Eleventh Circuit has restated that “[i]n determining whether substantial evidence supports a decision, we give great deference to the ALJ's fact findings.” Hunter v. Soc. Sec. Admin., Comm'r, 808 F.3d 818, 822 (11th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). 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 or found that the preponderance of the evidence is 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); see also Lowery v. Sullivan, 979 F.2d 835, 837 (11th Cir. 1992) (stating that the court must scrutinize the entire record to determine the reasonableness of the factual findings). The Court reviews the Commissioner's conclusions of law under a de novo standard of review. Ingram v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 496 F.3d 1253, 1260 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990)).

         IV. Discussion

         Whether the ALJ properly assessed medical source opinions

         At issue here are the opinions of two physicians, Robert Cross, M.D., a cardiologist who treated Plaintiff from June 10, 2013 to February 14, 2014, and a state agency medical consultant, James Patty, M.D. Tr. 96-99, 559-88, 657-59, 710-19. As accurately summarized ...


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