United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
Dalton JR., United States District Judge
instant appeal, Plaintiff Obel Nieves challenges the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration's (the
“Commissioner”) final decision
denying him social security benefits. (Doc. 1.) On referral,
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory J. Kelly recommended that the
Court affirm the Commissioner's final decision. (Doc. 17
(“R&R”).) Plaintiff objected
to the R&R (Doc. 18
(“Objection”)), and the
Commissioner responded (Doc. 19). Upon consideration, the
Court finds that the Objection is due to be overruled, and
the R&R is due to be adopted.
party objects to a magistrate judge's findings, the
district court must “make a de novo determination of
those portions of the report . . . to which objection is
made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The district court
“may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part,
the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge.” Id. The district court must consider
the record and factual issues based on the record independent
of the magistrate judge's report. Ernest S. ex rel.
Jeffrey S. v. State Bd. of Educ., 896 F.2d 507, 513
(11th Cir. 1990).
first filed an application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits on July 27, 2012, alleging
disability beginning May 24, 2012. (Doc. 13-2, p. 21.) His
claim was initially denied and denied again upon
reconsideration. (Id.) Plaintiff then requested a
hearing, which was held on June 15, 2015, before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
with counsel present. (Id.) On July 7, 2015, the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision, concluding that Plaintiff was
not disabled. (Id. at 21, 33.) Plaintiff requested
review of the ALJ's decision before the Appeals Council
of the Social Security Administration, which was denied.
(Doc. 1-2.) As such, the ALJ's decision finding no
disability became the Commissioner's final decision.
then filed the instant appeal, requesting review and reversal
of the Commissioner's decision for an award of benefits
or remand. (Doc. 1.) As grounds, Plaintiff proffers that the
ALJ committed reversible error because she: (1) failed to
consider all of Plaintiff's impairments when determining
whether he suffered from a severe impairment at step two of
the sequential process; and (2) understated the effects of
Plaintiff's disability in a number of ways when making
her residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) determination at step
four. (Doc. 16.) In finding for the Commissioner, Magistrate
Judge Kelly found no error with the ALJ's findings and
conclusions at either step. (Doc. 17, pp. 4-7, 9, 10.)
now objects to the R&R's conclusion that the ALJ
properly determined Plaintiff's RFC. (Doc. 18.) As the
matter has been fully briefed (see Doc. 19), it is
now ripe for the Court's consideration.
person who applies for social security disability benefits
must prove his disability. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1512. To that
end, the Social Security Regulations outline a five-step
sequential evaluation process to evaluate whether a claimant
is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; Hargress v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 874 F.3d 1284, 1285-86 (11th
Cir. 2017) (per curiam); Phillips v. Barnhart, 357
F.3d 1232, 1237 (11th Cir. 2004). Only two of those steps are
Step Two: Severe Impairment
initial matter, Plaintiff does not object to the
R&R's conclusion that the ALJ properly found at step
two that Plaintiff suffered from three severe impairments.
(See Doc. 18.) Because Plaintiff did not offer
specific objections to that portion of the R&R, the Court
reviews it only for clear error. See Wiand v. Wells Fargo
Bank, N.A., No. 8:12-cv-557-T-27EAJ, 2016 WL 355490, at
*1 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 28, 2016); see also Marcort v. Prem,
Inc., 208 F. App'x 781, 784 (11th Cir.
2006). Finding no clear error, the Court finds
that this portion of the R&R is due to be adopted.
Step Four: RFC Determination
Objection focuses only on the ALJ's analysis at step
four. (See Doc. 18, p. 1.) At this step, the ALJ
must assess Plaintiff's RFC and ability to return to his
past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iv). The
RFC is the most work that a claimant can do despite the
limitations caused by his impairments. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1545(a)(1). The RFC determination is used to decide
whether the claimant: (1) can return to his past relevant
work; and (2) can adjust to other work ...