United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
S. SNEED, United States Magistrate Judge
Colleen Teague seeks judicial review of the denial of her
claim for a period of disability and disability insurance
benefits. As the Administrative Law Judge's
(“ALJ”) decision was based on substantial
evidence and employed proper legal standards, the decision is
filed an application for a period of disability on August 23,
2013. (Tr. 168.) The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's
claims both initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 96,
104.) Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing.
(Tr. 109.) Upon Plaintiff's request, the ALJ held a
hearing at which Plaintiff appeared and testified. (Tr.
29-77.) Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision finding Plaintiff not disabled and accordingly
denied Plaintiff's claims for benefits. (Tr. 10-23.)
Subsequently, Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals
Council, which the Appeals Council denied. (Tr. 1-5.)
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 1961, claimed disability beginning on March
3, 2014. (Tr. 168, 187.) Plaintiff has a high school
education. (Tr. 35.) Plaintiff's past relevant work
experience included work as a hairdresser, medical
transcriber, cafeteria attendant, and food server. (Tr. 69.)
Plaintiff alleged disability due to degenerative disc
disease, a herniated disc, numbness in her hands, curvature
of her spine, back pain, and a weak right side/hip. (Tr.
rendering the decision, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had
not performed substantial gainful activity since March 3,
2014, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 15.) After conducting a
hearing and reviewing the evidence of record, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease, chronic venous
insufficiency, fibromyalgia, major depressive disorder,
generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and a history
of marijuana use. (Tr. 15.) 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.) The ALJ then
concluded that Plaintiff retained a residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to light work with limitations.
the ALJ found the following:
[C]laimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b), including the
ability to lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally, 10
pounds frequently, and sit 6 hours, 3 hours at a time, and
stand and/or walk 6 hours, 1 hour at a time, in an 8-hour
workday. She can frequently reach, handle, finger, feel,
push, and pull with the bilateral upper extremities. She can
frequently operate foot controls with the bilateral lower
extremities. She can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds
and can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She must avoid all exposure
to unprotected heights, temperature extremes, and vibration.
She must also avoid even moderate exposure to moving
machinery, humidity and wetness, and pulmonary irritants.
Finally, she is limited to simple, routine tasks.
(Tr. 17.) 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.)
Plaintiff's noted impairments and the assessment of a
vocational expert (“VE”), however, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff could not perform her past relevant
work. (Tr. 21.) Given Plaintiff's background and RFC, the
VE testified that Plaintiff could perform other jobs existing
in significant numbers in the national economy, such as a
parking lot cashier, hand packager, and bagger. (Tr. 22.)
Accordingly, based on Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, RFC, and the testimony of the VE, the ALJ found
Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 22.)
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