United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MCCOY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff Jill Haughie's Complaint (Doc. 1)
filed on October 17, 2016. Plaintiff seeks judicial review of
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) denying her claim for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits. The
Commissioner filed the Transcript of the proceedings
(hereinafter referred to as “Tr.” followed by the
appropriate page number), and the parties filed legal
memoranda in support of their positions. For the reasons set
out herein, the decision of the Commissioner is
AFFIRMED pursuant to § 205(g) of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Social Security Act Eligibility, the ALJ Decision, and
Standard of Review
defines disability as the inability to do 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.
§§ 416(i), 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A); 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1505, 416.905. The impairment must be
severe, making the claimant unable to do her previous work or
any other substantial gainful activity that exists in the
national economy. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2),
1382c(a)(3); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505 - 404.1511,
416.905 - 416.911. Plaintiff bears the burden of persuasion
through step four, while the burden shifts to the
Commissioner at step five. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482
U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987).
10, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for disability
insurance benefits. (Tr. at 90, 185-86). Plaintiff asserted
an onset date of July 8, 2012. (Id. at 185).
Plaintiff's application was denied initially on August
13, 2013 and on reconsideration on October 4, 2013.
(Id. at 90, 106). A hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Marty Turner on
January 26, 2015. (Id. at 31-79). The ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on March 24, 2015. (Id. at
12-26). The ALJ found Plaintiff not to be under a disability
from July 8, 2012, through the date of the decision.
(Id. at 26).
August 12, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review. (Id. at 1-5). Plaintiff filed a
Complaint (Doc. 1) in the United States District Court on
October 17, 2016. This case is ripe for review. The parties
consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge
for all proceedings. (See Doc. 12).
Summary of the ALJ's Decision
must follow a five-step sequential evaluation process to
determine if a claimant has proven that she is disabled.
Packer v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 542 Fed.Appx.
890, 891 (11th Cir. 2013) (citing Jones v. Apfel,
190 F.3d 1224, 1228 (11th Cir. 1999)). An ALJ must
determine whether the claimant: (1) is performing substantial
gainful activity; (2) has a severe impairment; (3) has a
severe impairment that meets or equals an impairment
specifically listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1; (4) can perform her past relevant work; and (5)
can perform other work of the sort found in the national
economy. Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232,
1237-40 (11th Cir. 2004). The claimant has the burden of
proof through step four and then the burden shifts to the
Commissioner at step five. Hines-Sharp v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 511 Fed.Appx. 913, 915 n.2 (11th Cir. 2013).
found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements
through June 30, 2015. (Tr. at 14). At step one of the
sequential evaluation, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had
engaged in substantial gainful activity during the following
period: October 2012 through March 2013. (Id.). The
ALJ further found that there had been a continuous 12-month
period during which Plaintiff did not engage in substantial
gainful activity and the ALJ addressed this period in the
decision. (Id. at 15). At step two, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe
impairments: seizure disorder, migraine headaches, anxiety,
and depression (20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c)).
(Id.). At step three, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one
of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P,
app. 1 (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, and
404.1526). (Id. at 15).
four, the ALJ found the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20
[C.F.R. §] 404.1567(c), with limitations. She cannot
climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. She cannot be exposed to
workplace hazards such as unprotected heights and operating
hazardous machinery. She can understand, remember and carry
out simple and low-level detailed work instructions. She can
only occasionally interact with the general public.
(Id. at 17).
determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform her past
relevant work as a registered nurse or real estate manager.
(Id. at 24). Through the date last insured, the ALJ
considered Plaintiff's age, education, work experience,
and residual functional capacity, and found that there were
jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national
economy that Plaintiff could perform. (Id. at
24-26). The ALJ noted that the vocational expert identified
five types of jobs that Plaintiff was able to perform,
namely: (1) hospital cleaner, DOT # 323.687-010; (2) janitor,
DOT # 381.687-018; (3) dishwasher, DOT # 318.687-010; (4)
housekeeper, DOT # 323.687-014; and (5) office helper, DOT #
239.567-010. (Id. at 25). The ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was not under a disability at any time from July 8,
2012, through the date of the decision. (Id. at 26).
Standard of Review
scope of this Court's review is limited to determining
whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standard,
McRoberts v. Bowen, 841 F.2d 1077, 1080 (11th Cir.
1988), and whether the findings are supported by substantial
evidence, 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). 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 ...